Dale Gonelli is dedicated to his work advocating for inclusion and building connections between people with and without disability. A regular at CPL’s Redcliffe centre, Cascade Place, you will often find Dale in the Communications group writing a speech for an upcoming event. He’s even had a paper accepted for the AGOSCI conference this year!
As part of his work, once a month Dale visits his local kindy and reads to the kids using his communication device. Why? To get them talking about disability.
When he first started these visits early last year, some of the children had never seen a person who uses a wheelchair; spoken to a person with complex communication needs; or listened to a person speak using a communication device. By reading to the children and having time for questions and conversation afterwards, Dale is encouraging community engagement one kindergartener at a time.
“I didn’t plan to work with little kids, but I met the teacher at the markets and we got talking. She invited me to the kindy to talk to the kids. Then we moved onto reading but now it has grown into more,” Dale explained.
“The kids ask me questions about my disability, and we chat to them about cerebral palsy and living with disability. I also tell them about my communication device and how I use it.”
Dale’s had some experience with this at previous CPL camps. He’s worked alongside children with complex communication needs to understand how these devices work.
“At the kindy, I show the kids what I can do and what I do for work, and my hobby of making stone shelters for animals in the garden,” he said.
“It’s important to me because I want to have more community engagement with different groups, to educate them about people with disabilities and how to engage with us.”
Dale has been visiting the kindy for over a year now, and has no plans to stop. He is certainly one to watch, and we can’t wait to read the next chapter on his community work. Keep Touchstone bookmarked, and we’ll keep you updated!