Power of connection catapults Cahoots’ expansion
A commitment to creating equal opportunities for people at-risk and those living with disability continues to drive Cahoots’ vision for a connected, inclusive community as it invites like-minded businesses and individuals to help write its next chapter.
IN 1982 five families were brought together by a shared vision: to give their children living with disability a means to safely socialise, while creating a support network to alleviate some of the pressures that come with providing 24/7 care.
Little did they know at the time, it was these efforts that would later shape the backbone of one of Western Australia’s most successful and long-standing non-profit organisations.
Today Cahoots, previously Kids’ Camp Inc, has extended its reach providing a variety of inclusive camping, recreational, social and training group experiences, assisting more than 1500 families across the state each year.
“We’ve since evolved to deliver a diversified range of inclusive group experiences, creating opportunities to develop friendships, skills and confidence, for people living with disability including adults, as well as Aboriginal families and others facing exceptional challenges.
“And now, we’re looking for other like-minded community and corporate organisations to join us on the journey to extend our reach, helping more people through the power of shared experience and human connection.”
Inclusivity sparks growth
The organisation has undergone rapid growth over the past five years, from delivering 10 camps in 2015 to planning for 80 camps in 2020.
Ms Karlsson said expansion was the result of a strategic review in 2016 that identified how the charity could broaden its scope in the community.
“We saw a gap in genuinely inclusive social services,” Ms Karlsson said.
“Through our camps participants share experiences, overcome challenges and form strong connections with people, creating independence and personal growth.”
In addition to running multiple Camp Adventures (providing overnight support services), Cahoots offers inclusive weekly and monthly social and learning opportunities for youth and adults, with 1:1 specialist care support services also available.
Last financial year the charity added another notch to its belt, establishing an office in Bunbury for expansion into the South West region.
Ms Karlsson said Cahoots would continue to grow its activities with camps and programs for at-risk youth and children from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as offering camp consultancy for community partners and school groups, and that the organisation had also established cultural camps tailored to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.
Innovation drives impact
Innovation has underpinned Cahoots’ longevity throughout its history, the latest example: the launch of Cahoots Connects, a free essential delivery shopping service in WA to further assist families and people at risk during the COVID-19 crisis.
“We received more than 140 expressions of interest for the service within 24 hours,” Ms Karlsson said.
“And we’ve already received positive feedback to continue the service post coronavirus.”
Cahoots is supported by the State Government, however Ms Karlsson said the organisation’s aim was to eventually operate under a fee-for-service model, driven by community support from more than 300 volunteers, fundraising activities and donations.
“We have an exceptionally committed and focused team who take the fundraising dollar and stretch it as far as possible to support as many WA families as we can,” Ms Karlsson said.
“This financial year we’ve delivered over $300,000 worth of sponsored camps and programs through generous donations and fundraising.
“Our success is reflected in our community loyalty; some Cahoots’ participants have been with us since they were five and are now almost 30.”
Supporting the future
Ms Karlsson said the charity’s connection with volunteers and collaboration with corporate and community partners had enabled Cahoots to extend its social reach through partnered fundraising events and other initiatives.
Any donation, she said, would go a long way into continuing to assist the Cahoots community.
“We’ve also launched our annual Financial End of Year giving appeal, with all receipts tax deductible,” she said.
“The essence of what we do is to help those most vulnerable and at risk have experiences of inclusion through opportunities to connect, learn and celebrate - things most of us enjoy and experience on a daily basis without evening thinking - as well as facilitate the creation of an inclusive community through access and inclusion training.”
“We’re dedicated to continue helping those in need and it’s why ongoing support is so important.”