People and Places
28/08/2019
All-abilities beaming

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Having four kids is busy. Now imagine having four kids all with some form of disability. That’s beyond super-busy!

Life in Boneo is chaotic, challenging, rewarding and non-stop for Rebekah and Thoral Fraser. Their oldest daughter, Izabella, has Down syndrome and autism. Their second child, Hudson, has high-functioning autism. Twins Tillie and Piper are both on the autism spectrum and Piper also has mild cerebral palsy, ADHD, OCD and ODD.

All this means multiple visits to multiple specialists. Four separate NDIS plans. Four different personalities that require one-to-one support around the clock. Then there’s the school refusals, sensory overloads and spontaneous behavioural difficulties to contend with. 

Rebekah is not only the mother of these four special kids, she’s also one of the founders of the not-for-profit organisation BEAM — Believe, Empower, Acceptance, Meaningful — which operates out of Bendigo. 

She explains: “We moved to Boneo in October 2017 primarily because my dad was sick and my two sisters were already living on the Mornington Peninsula. Previous to that we had been travelling around Australia in a 12m bus for a couple of years, which had its own unique set of difficulties, although it did take away the challenges of getting Izabella and Piper off to school. That’s always been difficult and some days it just doesn’t happen. There are three of us involved with BEAM, which I am hoping to bring to the Peninsula when we are a bit more settled. I apply for the grants amongst other administration jobs, occupational therapist Amy Whitten develops the physical programs and Rebecca Quinn is our all-rounder and runs the Bendigo hub for family connectedness. We started it because there wasn’t anything like it in Bendigo and surrounds. It now runs in Echuca and Heathcote and hopefully here soon.”

So where does a mum with four special needs kids and a devoted husband who gets up at 3.30am to head off to work and is in bed by 6.30pm find the time for others? Rebekah continues: “BEAM makes a real difference to the participants. Whether it’s the beginners ballet classes, the BEAM BEATS class, which involves a lot of drumming, or a tap class, the response is well worth it. We have a team of brilliant teachers and volunteers too. Look, I’ll be honest: having four children like ours can be exhausting, but when you see them making even the smallest milestones there is such a sense of accomplishment and pride. It’s the same for the BEAM participants and their families. It’s important.”

Sure is. Brilliant job, Rebekah. BEAM on.

To find out more about BEAM, go to www.beambendigo.com.au

LIZ ROGERS 

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