A new social enterprise is providing NDIS participants with a launch pad to try new things and see what’s possible.
Clients at Centacare’s Iluka Learning and Lifestyle Hub at Caloundra create innovative designs using succulents and recycled materials. They sell their designs in pop-up shops and invest the proceeds back into the business, ensuring Project New Life continues to flourish as a financially sustainable social enterprise.
The project has launched with the assistance of Courtney Duvergier, who has been part of Centacare’s Sunshine Coast team for 15 years. “This project was conceived of and created by people with a disability, for people with a disability. It puts them in the driver’s seat and is something they can take ownership of and run themselves, with support from us where needed,” said Courtney.
“A local green thumb hosted a workshop with the group at her house. She showed them how to plant succulents and how to care for them. They really embraced the opportunity to create something special. Straight away, I knew we were onto a winner.
“That was two years ago. Now it’s a thriving venture involving almost 30 clients. Everyone has a role to play, whether it’s planting, sourcing supplies, working at the pop-up shops, record-keeping or delivering stock to local businesses.
“Our designers work every Thursday morning. They choose their pot, plant and decorative materials such as coloured pebbles. Our wood-working group contribute as well, making timber display stands, tables and trolleys.”
A highlight for Courtney is seeing clients connect with the broader community, particularly those who’ve never had that opportunity. “They’re out there engaging with people from all walks of life. Some clients are supported to develop the social and communication skills needed to confidently interact with the public. We role play conversations and different scenarios until they feel ready to give it a go,” she said.
“Project New Life goes beyond supporting people to achieve their goals. It acts as a launch pad for them to try new things and see what’s possible. I love walking alongside clients on that journey.”
Project New Life has monthly pop-up shops at Stockland Caloundra and Stockland Birtinya. Designs can also be purchased from Red Hot Chilli Pepper, Villa Verde Living and Coffee Cat on Kings Beach. Contact your SDM or phone 1300 236 822 to find out more about learning and lifestyle activities in your area.