Teenspirit program to carry on thanks to Directions takeover


Teenspirit support worker Rafell Herrera, Taylah McGregor (19, front), Ken Grey (17, headphones), Directions co-ordinator Tina Lizzi and Liam Hubbard (18, orange top) ready for the day’s excursion. Picture: Marie Nirme
Teenspirit support worker Rafell Herrera, Taylah McGregor (19, front), Ken Grey (17, headphones), Directions co-ordinator Tina Lizzi and Liam Hubbard (18, orange top) ready for the day’s excursion. Picture: Marie Nirme

WHEN not-for-profit kids’ disability service group Teenspirit Inc. was told its funding was ending, it was worried for its members’ futures.

Luckily, the intervention of disability support service Directions has provided clients a new, but familiar home.

Since the end of March, Directions has officially absorbed Teenspirit and incorporated the running of its programs, including school holiday trips, excursions and disco nights, into its day-to-day activities.

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Directions co-ordinator and former Teenspirit program manager Tina Lizzi said it had the option to fold, join the expensive National Disability Insurance Scheme, or look for another organisation to take hold of its license.

“My initial conversation with (Directions chief executive) Elizabeth Barnes was very promising and accommodating and I had a look on their website and they were a bigger version of Tennspirit, what we could have potentially turned into later on,” she said.

Mrs Lizzi said the smooth transition during the handover had been essential for both the company and its clients.

“Bar a couple of families, we’ve bought pretty much everyone over to Directions, including the support workers I have, which was really important for the kids to have familiarity,” she said.

“That comes from Directions and the calibre of Elizabeth, looking at the processes and realising if we made things too difficult for our clients it would scare them away.

“She’s really simplified what needed to be done and it was quite a big job, as you can imagine with 30 families involved.”

She said the most important thing was ensuring the kids who needed Teenspirit were settled.

“We had one little guy who had been asking ‘when is Teenspirit starting again?’ and when told it was in April, then kept asking ‘is it April yet?’

“That’s the joy and why everyone has put the effort in to get this over the line.”

Ms Barnes said she was glad Directions could accommodate Teenspirit.

“It’s heartbreaking when we hear of young people, particularly those with autism, having no friends,” she said.

“Anything we can do to help them learn some of the social skills they need to be starting building friendships can make such a lot of difference in all our lives.”