How mindfulness is helping people with disability

Interact Disability Employment Service participant Krysten Gascoigne who used her lived experience to create a mindfulness tool, is now sharing her gift with others. Krysten, who lives with physical and mental disabilities, found using activities such as colouring-in had a positive impact on her mental health and wellbeing, so she decided to create her own, “I love colouring and I feel like when it comes to taking care of yourself, it’s just as important to take care of your mental health as it is to take care of your physical,” she said.

She donated her colouring packs to other Interact participants knowing how much it helped with her mental health, “I had a ton of supplies, and I’m designing all these pages anyway. I love that there’s other people like me who are getting this mental stimulation. It’s been really good to share things that I’ve made for the people who similar to me,” she said.

Krysten knows first-hand how important it is to have the right support from a disability employment service. The 35-yearold Adelaide woman was seeking more support from a Disability Employment Service when she came across Interact at a local disability exhibition, signing up with them on the day.

She receives employment support from Interact Australia (Part of the IntoWork Group), a not-for-profit organisation which supports and empowers people into employment and saw an opportunity to help fellow participants. She is currently working as a disability support worker, providing assistance and support to other people with disability.

Since joining Interact, Krysten said her life has “improved by ten-fold”. “Working with Interact has changed things for the better when it comes to my employment. Before I went through disability employment services, I was struggling massively without the proper support. Interact is a lot more personable, I can message any time when I’m not coping and everyone is more than willing to help you,” she said.

“Interact has been amazing with helping me with different avenues of all the different things I need help with, which is fantastic. I even named one of my designs after Jenna McArdle (Interact DES Workforce Partner) because she’s my person at Interact and I coloured it in different shades of pink because it’s her favourite colour,” she said. Krysten said she loves being able to help people through her role as a home support worker, “I like making a positive impact on somebody’s life. Something as simple as going to the shop and getting their favourite food or helping them make a meal they really enjoy, taking my client with dementia for a drive and see her face light up or even teaching one of my clients who is Muslim Aussie slang. Even though these are little actions, it’s very rewarding to see how your actions can make a positive impact on somebody else’s life,” she said.

Interact Business Development Consultant Amy Mason said Krysten’s mindfulness colouring packs has been valuable to many Interact participants, “Our participants have really enjoyed the colouring packs. Colouring for adults has been recognised as a beneficial activity, it can help with meditation, stress and anxiety, and positive thinking. Due to a lot of participants living below the low income house hold it is lovely to be able to see them get excited about these colouring packs as it is something most of our participants cannot afford to buy for themselves,” she said.

About Interact
With 30 years of experience, Interact Australia (Part of the IntoWork Group) works to promote social inclusion, health and wellbeing by empowering people to achieve their full potential. Interact is a values based not-for-profit organisation, which champions and supports people with a disability in their choices, offering a range of person-centred supports, matched to meet unique circumstances and individual needs.

About International Day of People with Disability
International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a United Nations observed day held on 3 December each year. In Australia, IDPwD is a joint effort between government, schools, organisations, community groups, businesses and individuals. The Australian Government through the Department of Social Services funds a national program to help promote and raise awareness of this day. The IDPwD program aligns with Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-31 and aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability.

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