It takes a village to raise a child. That’s what Denis and Glenda Mullenger have experienced as proud parents of Aaron (pictured). Aaron has lived at home with them for 38 years, not that he’s actually at home much. He’s just as likely to be found riding his bike around his street, giving everyone he meets a helping hand!
“I literally can’t take Aaron anywhere without bumping into people he knows…” beamed Aaron’s Dad, Denis, “He warms to people quickly and has always got something to show you or involve you in, and that’s been the biggest driver behind his social and emotional development for years.”
Aaron’s Mum, Glenda, wholeheartedly agrees. “When we first moved to the Gold Coast in late 1984, we were directed to FSG (then the fledgling Family Support Group), where we spent time with other parents, gained access to much needed respite at Orana and Lakeview, and were passionate advocates for the needs of families living with children who have a disability.”
As soon as he left school Aaron’s prospects seemed less clear, but thanks to FSG’s Enrich Program (called Post-School Options back then) – Aaron was able to indulge his fascination with cars, motor bikes and keys. He enjoys ongoing placements at Hinterland Toyota (19 years), the Animal Welfare League (12 years), and Von Bibra Motors (15 years), who should all be highly commended for their very community-minded approach.
Julie Donovan from FSG’s Enrich Program explains, “Aaron demonstrates that when you are passionate about life, willing to reach out
and interact with others, you can educate and inspire everyone around you.”
“Aaron’s fascination with all things automotive has been the foundation for his ongoing development, providing a strong focus for learning and growth. Placements in the motor industry have so far provided Aaron with increased social connectedness, life skills, and ongoing involvement in a team environment,” she said.
Alongside donations from FSG and other community programs, Aaron’s extended corporate family generously support Aaron in his community fund-raising efforts for Gold Coast Recreation & Sport’s Trec for Rec. Aaron’s become a serious competitor, who loves to run their 7.5 km walk-athon, placing in the top 10 again this year, as well as receiving the Annual Fundraising Award for the sixth consecutive year! It’s something he clearly loves to do, with Denis on-hand to provide encouragement and carry the water.
Mindful of the future, Glenda and Denis are thinking positively, “We’re looking forward to the new opportunities that we hope will be available for Aaron under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), ensuring that he maintains the highest possible level of independence, and continues to contribute to his community.”