13 September 2022

From working with animals to performing on the drums solo, Alex has been exploring pathways and developing his skills with Young People’s Employment Pathways.

Alex wearing headphones and a mask and holding a drum stick. Behind him in a poster with a drum kit on it.

After leaving school, Alex and his mother attended the Hunter Disability Expo, looking for support to help Alex work out his next steps. At the expo, they connected with Young People’s Employment Pathways (YPEP), a program offered by Life Without Barriers that supports young people with disability to find work. Alex and Eduardo, his Employment Pathways Coach have been working together this year to help Alex explore pathways and achieve his goals.

Alex is a big animal lover, and his long-term goal is to work with animals, especially reptiles.

“I don’t just like animals, I love them. I'm a big animal person. I'm trying to get into conservation work and look after reptiles. A lot of people are scared of snakes, but not me.“ Alex said.

Alex is working towards starting a Certificate III in Animal Studies at TAFE. To help ease the transition into the course, Alex has been applying for work experience in pet shops and dog grooming salons with the support of Eduardo.

“We haven’t found a placement yet, but I think he has a gift to connect with animals. Part of Alex’s morning routine is taking care of the chickens at home, and he is great with dogs,” said Eduardo.

Alex holding a certificate standing in front of a sign with an image of a dog.

While waiting to start his course, Alex has been working on developing his communication and problem-solving skills and has achieved some big goals. One of his major achievements was performing The Wiggles Cover of Tame Impala’s Elephant at this year’s Hunter Disability Expo.

“This was my first solo performance. It actually felt pretty good, and the audience really got into it. I feel like I am more comfortable performing on stage now,” Alex reflected.

Patrick, another participant in YPEP, filmed Alex’s performance, and the video was shared on Life Without Barriers’ social media channels. When Alex saw the positive response to the video of his performance, it gave him the confidence to start his own Instagram account.

“Anthony from The Wiggles shared the video to his Instagram story, which was a pretty surreal moment. I look up to The Wiggles, they are my music inspiration,” said Alex.

“I’ve also been talking with some musicians through Instagram. My old drumming teacher plays in a band called Eat Your Heart Out, and I sent him the video.”

You can watch his performance at the Hunter Disability Expo here: Meet Alex - YouTube

Alex playing the drums

Alex has many talents and has also been developing his skills through magic show performances. Recently Eduardo helped Alex organise a music and magic performance at Hand to Hand Crafts in Newcastle.

“We were talking about Hand to Hand, discussing if Alex wanted to work there, processing payments as a cashier and then suddenly it clicked that he could perform there,” said Eduardo.

“Alex performed there recently, and the participants loved it - especially the magic tricks."

"It was a great opportunity for Alex to improve his organisational skills and learn about the importance of communicating effectively. He is looking forward to returning to Hand to Hand Crafts to perform again.”

Alex wearing a mask, blue t-shirt and white shorts performing a magic trick to an audience in Hand to Hand Crafts.

Outside of performances, Alex has also been developing his social skills through his connection with Patrick.

“Alex and Patrick’s pathways crossed when they made the video at the Hunter Disability Expo. They have a common goal of developing their social skills, and now they meet a couple of hours a week to connect as a social group and collaborate,” said Eduardo.

One of the projects they are working on together is creating a music video. They have been using the time to plan, with Alex acting as the video director and Patrick as the editor. Both Alex and Patrick are really enjoying this opportunity to work together.

Alex wearing head phones, a blue t-shirt and white shorts standing with a guitar and performing.

Since starting his YPEP journey, Alex has experienced so many positives. His confidence has grown, he has made new friendships, and he now feels he has found the direction for his career.

For anyone thinking about joining YPEP, Alex says it is a great idea.

“Do it. If you want to do what you love, get a coach, and they will help you choose the right pathway. You will learn how to get jobs, how to make a resume and how to communicate with people.”

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

Young People’s Employment Pathways

Young People’s Employment Pathways supports young people with disability to gain skills and experience and to find meaningful employment.

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