Drew Russell is one of P2P’s Stand by Me Peer Facilitators. In this blog series, Drew shares the stepping stones he’s used to find new experiences. Working within the disability sector has been enriching and valuable for Drew.
How being involved in the disability sector has helped me through my young adult life is by giving me opportunities to grow and understand my community on the Sunshine Coast while also giving me support for my passion for becoming a filmmaker.
In 2011 I attended Nambour TAFE for Drama courses, and during that time period I had my first exposure to people with disabilities and was at first unsure if this was a place I wanted to be involved in, but it wasn’t until I realised how there was less difference between them and I than I have thought.
Currently I am involved with P2P and Equity Works in different projects to help further both support and change on the Sunshine Coast. One of these projects is called “Stand By Me” a grant program from the NDIS to P2P to find people with intellectual disabilities and discover from them what challenges they face and how we may help their sense of belonging.
During the course of the project I have been placed in a role that has allowed me to test my leadership and coordinator abilities. At times I have been able to set up meetings for participants in the project, deliver speeches about the project and ask questions that offered lots of insight into the persons experience in the community.
Another thing that has helped me with being involved with these projects over the years has been the help the disability sector and in particular P2P have given me to pursue my filmmaking career, I was able to meet people who helped create two of my short films Now I’m Happy (2017) and Mountain Brothers (2018) The former which ended up winning a few awards nationally and internationally and the latter of which helped promote it all the way to showing it at the Majestic Cinema in Nambour on the big screen and even received funding from government to put into film festivals.
Other prospects have opened up to me as well, as very recently I have been sought to MC events for the newly opened disability service, The Ability Collective. This is a big honour as much as an opportunity as it offers me further creative endeavours and opportunities into not just my passion for creative arts but also for helping make my home on the Sunshine Coast a more inclusive and valued area.