Small newspaper ad results in bigger opportunities for Nick
IMAGINE being a 25-year-old without the skills to communicate or interact like your peers due to your disability.
That reality is transforming rapidly for Alstonville's Nick Hubert after placing an advertisement in The Northern Star for a "mentor" that attracted more than 50 respondents and gaining government disability support funding.
Nick's mother Joy Jennings said there had been an unbelievable response from people all over the Northern Rivers keen to help her son make the transition to living out of home.
"The ad was a huge positive that has changed our lives, especially Nick's," she said.
Ms Jennings said Nick was very sick in his first few weeks of life and spent his first two years in hospital.
After being diagnosed with an intellectual disability plus autism, life was always going to be challenging for Nick.
What changed their lives was being one of the six out of 80 applicants to secure disability support funding in 2011. It was then Ms Jennings said they met Amy Davidson from Ageing Disability and Homecare services,, who she described as an angel, who linked them with respite carers.
Currently Ms Jennings and Nick are going through the process of selecting mentors from a wide variety of applicants who they hope will help Nick gain the skills to live independently.
"We have had school teachers, a black belt in karate, a surfing instructor and even a lady in a wheelchair who offered to teach Nick how to cook," she said.
"Nick has grown so much in his social skills meeting these people. It is opening a whole new world for Nick and me."
Nick is now learning all the things that are second nature to most fellow Gen Y-ers - to read, how to use a mobile phone, a computer, to communicate on Facebook, to cook, and to drive a car.
Gaining his learner's driving permit last year is one of Nick's proudest achievements. Now he is determined to get his P-plates so he can potentially drive to his job with Ballina Shire Council three days a week.