Rei is a friendly, energetic and motivated 23 year old young man, who leads an impressively active lifestyle. When Rei and his mother, Yumi, met Ryan, a Linker with St Vincent de Paul Society's Ability Links, Rei spoke about his packed schedule. Monday to Friday he works part-time in a café, he does lap swimming and gym exercise four evenings per week, and visits extended family and goes to church Friday evenings. Rei also plays tennis on Saturdays, and goes out with his friends from the ‘Up! Club’, a social group formed by members of Down Syndrome NSW. Rei said that he whilst he is very busy, he wanted some support from Ability Links NSW to explore his other interests and hopefully make new connections with people in his local community. Rei explained that he and his family had only recently moved to the inner city, having relocated from Sydney’s western suburbs, and that he doesn’t yet feel a sense of belonging in the city.
Rei and Ryan met a few more times and had conversations about Rei’s interests and his life goals. Rei spoke about a passion for Karate classes when he was living in Sydney’s western suburbs, so Rei decided that he would like the support of Ability Links NSW to find a welcoming Karate class in the inner Sydney area. Rei and Ryan spent some time looking for local Karate classes using Ryan’s work laptop, and together they found one that looked good at Redfern Community Centre, which is easily accessible by public transport. Ryan and the Sydney City Ability Links NSW team have a strong working relationship with the Redfern Community Centre, having previously linked people into their wide range of community activities. Ryan assured Rei that the workers at the centre are very friendly and supportive of the Ability Links NSW initiative.
After discussing Rei’s decision with his parents, Rei and Ryan met at a bus stop in Redfern that Rei was familiar with and they walked to the community centre. Rei told Ryan that he is fine to travel independently, and that he just needs to be shown how to access new places one or two times before he feels confident on his own. Ryan introduced Rei to one of the centre workers, Terry, who chatted with Rei and told him that he’s available at the centre if Rei needs anything.
Rei was an instant hit with the Karate class, impressing the other participants by performing a choreographed Karate routine whilst the group waited for their instructor, known as a Sensei, to arrive. Rei chatted with the adult participants in the class, and got involved in a game of ‘tip and chase’ with the younger kids, bringing an infectious energy into the room. After the first class the Sensei, Ayumi, remarked that Rei, “trains very hard!”, and encouraged him to come weekly. Rei said to Ryan after the class that he really enjoyed himself, and that he felt everyone was friendly and welcoming. After the second class, Rei’s mother Yumi contacted Ryan to let him know that Rei was very happy with making new connections at the Redfern Community Centre and intends to attend weekly Karate classes.
Yumi and Rei thanked Ryan for the support of Ability Links NSW, and were happy for Rei’s wonderful linking story to be shared with the rest of the community.