Fishability bringing the fun of the catch to people of all abilities

Fishability bringing the fun of the catch to people of all abilities
Fishability bringing the fun of the catch to people of all abilities
Fishability bringing the fun of the catch to people of all abilities
Fishability bringing the fun of the catch to people of all abilities
Fishability bringing the fun of the catch to people of all abilities
Fishability bringing the fun of the catch to people of all abilities
Fishability bringing the fun of the catch to people of all abilities
Fishability bringing the fun of the catch to people of all abilities

FISHERS lined a Mindarie jetty, delighting in reeling in their catch on a sunny April morning.

It would have been unremarkable if not for the volunteers overseeing the activity, who help people with disabilities enjoy the experience that is often inaccessible to them.

Not-for-profit organisation Fishability, which is run by volunteers and funded by the Department of Fisheries and Recfishwest, holds regular fishing days at jetties around the Perth metropolitan area and regional WA.

There are no criteria or limitations; it caters for people with all kinds of disabilities and aims to give everyone the opportunity to fish.

People can hold the fishing rod while seated in their wheelchairs or use a battery-powered rod that reels in the line by pressing a button.

The organisation also has a modified boat that can accommodate four people in wheelchairs and their carers, taking people out fishing twice per week.

Program co-ordinator Stephen Jones had been a fishing club member for 35 years and started with Fishability after he retired.

“I enjoy the interaction with the guests and I obviously enjoy the fishing,” he said.

“It’s just a great atmosphere, there’s never a negative to it.

“It just makes life better for them. They enjoy it so we enjoy it.”

The sessions are free and open to anyone to book, with attendees often coming from disability support groups and aged care facilities.

“There are very, very few disabilities we can’t accommodate,” Mr Jones said.

Members of Northern Suburbs Stroke Support Group were part of the Fishability day in Mindarie this month after attending a previous session in Hillarys earlier this year.

Founder Sally Allen said members regularly went on outings together and were always seeking new activities to enjoy some “light hearted fun”.

“Anything that comes along we’re going to be in it,” she said.

“By being able to participate in any event it raises their self-esteem, it’s something they’ve achieved.”

She said participants “absolutely loved” the fishing days and was thankful for the program as there was a lack of similar opportunities available for people with disabilities.

“I can’t speak too highly of it,” she said.

“They need all these pluses because there’s not much else out there for them.

“You’ve got to get out there; you’ve got to dare to do.”

Fishability executive officer Di Bruce said the organisation was establishing north and south branches and was seeking volunteers from the northern suburbs.

It is open to anyone who can spare a few hours to help on fishing days, with no angling experience necessary, suitable for people who “like being part of a team and being outdoors”.

The group is also planning to run sessions for students at special education support centres.

Visit http://fishability.org.au

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