20 May 2022

Brent loves getting active, and especially loves the surf. When Brent’s support team heard about a local Disabled Surfers Association event they immediately planned how to take him surfing.

Brent is on a surfboard wearing a yellow rash shirt. He is riding a wave smiling, he is surrounded by support workers.

You just have to spend a short time with Brent to see that he loves life and likes to get involved in everything - from laundry to cooking. More than anything, he loves doing outdoor activities, especially if these activities have anything to do with water.

“Everyone who meets Brent loves him. He is like a ray of sunshine and all the carers in his Supported Independent Living house just love being around him.” Said Natasha Williams-Lawton, a Team Leader at Life Without Barriers.

When Brent’s support team heard about the local Disabled Surfers Association (DSA) event, at nearby Umina Beach, they were determined to take him surfing. They all knew that the “surfing safari” would require a lot of additional planning because Brent has Pica, but they also knew that Brent would love it! Pica is a compulsive eating disorder where Brent’s brain tells him to eat anything he can see, including non-food items.

They were right. The sheer joy and ecstasy on Brent’s face made all the planning and preparation so worthwhile. Brent’s love of being in the water was obvious to everyone. His happiness that day was so infectious that everyone went home on a high.

Brent does not use words to speak. He communicates in a way that works for him. Brent and his support workers, some he has been working with for over 10 years, communicate seamlessly through looks, body language, facial expressions, and gestures. For example, they know when he’s planning to eat non-food items like sand at the beach and they’ll simply give him a knowing look, and a gentle shake of the head. Brent clearly understands their gestures and responds with a cheeky smile that says, “you got me.”

The Regional Operations Manager for Life Without Barriers, Jean Hampstead has a great relationship with Brent.

He has such a cheeky personality and a wonderfully disarming smile.

"He is smart and persistent when he wants something.” Said Jean.

When he is not outdoors, one of Brent’s favourite things to do is counting his own personal coins with his support workers. He even has his own coin cash tin.

Jean never thought she’d see the day when Brent could sit with coins and resist the temptation to eat them.

“It’s a real credit to Brent, he is making great strides and I am just in awe of the wonderful relationship that both he and his support team have established,” said Jean.

A persons' story is precious. We take story telling seriously. Sometimes people are able to tell their own story and we love that. Sometimes they ask us to tell their story for them. We always make sure they give us their ok and we will always honour the trust placed in us to bring their story forward. 

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