THE FEEDBACK from a recent
presentation Michael gave as part of the 25th birthday celebrations for the
Orana Early Childhood Intervention (OECI) centre in Dubbo was
overwhelmingly positive but, for Michael, it was completely over-shadowed
by the stories of parents with children who attend the
"I speak at a lot of these types of functions and come into contact with
many non-profit organisations and, although I'm always impressed by what
they do, I guess my disabiility has made me a bit of a hard-nose. It takes
a lot to move me to tears.
"But the stories I heard that night and the people I met who work for the
centre - some as volunteers - really impressed me. It was a real honour to
be able to add something to their celebrations and feel that I contributed
to their cause in some way," said Milton who admitted being a little
emotional when friend and OECI board member, Anthony Barnes and his wife
Marie showed footage of their young son Joey water-skiing.
"Those physical achievements really resonate with me because I know how
important sport was to me and my rehabilitation after losing my leg to
cancer at nine," said Milton.
Although the centre caters for children aged up to six years of age who
have a moderate to severe disability, Milton said he identified with each
of their journey's and also that of the parents.
"Having one leg is considered a mild disability and yet the various
challenges for me and for my parents sometimes seemed insurmountable. I can
imagine the trauma, worry and anxiety parents and kids go through and the
centre really is a port in a storm, particularly in those early days."
Orana Early Childhood Intervention is a
family centred service, endeavouring to meet the needs of the family as a
whole, not just the child as an individual. Families are an integral part
of the Early Intervention Team and are resourced to become their child's
primary intervention worker.
The programs include education, physiotherapy, occuptational therapy and
speech pathology, as well as a counselling service. The centre provides
education and therapy to children and their families residing in Dubbo and
the Orana Far West Region of NSW, an area covering some 40% of the
state.Approximately 150 children and their families benefit from the
service each year. It receives enormous support from the local community.
Photo: Michael Milton and Anthony Barnes