News Release

The Tertiary PLACE

By Christopher Cooper

Sisters and special education teachers, Angela Leneham and Nona Westenrieder, were recently granted the Minister's Encouragement Award as part of 2010 Disability Action Week for their work in supporting people with disabilities.

These sisters, upon realising that learning and social support for people with disabilities greatly diminished once they left formal schooling, decided to help create a solution for this problem. Together they created The Tertiary PLACE Inc. in Brisbane - an approved provider of day services for adults with disabilities that emphasises social inclusion and life-long learning, with a particular focus on performing arts, supporting families and animal therapy.

The Minister's Award was granted by Annastacia Palaszczuk – The Minister for Disabilities and Multicultural Affairs. The Minister was invited to visit the institution by local MP Di Farmer who has been a strong supporter of these sisters and the institution of their creation.

Angela Leneham, one of the founding directors of The Tertiary PLACE is a special educator with extensive personal experience in the field of disabilities. She has worked in both mainstream and special education settings across all years of schooling. Angela has a special interest in using animals to foster academic and social learning, which lead to her recently acquiring a therapy dog names Porridge, and undertaking further studies in Companion Animal Studies. Angela also has great experience in performing arts, having participated in numerous Church and amateur theatrical productions at all levels.

Nona Westenrieder is the sister and a co-founder of The Tertiary PLACE, and she is an educator with a particular interest in language and culture. She has taught German language and culture to primary and secondary students and is interested in the cultures of the world. One of Nona's driving beliefs in helping to establish the centre is the fact that individuals with disabilities are capable of, and have a right to, lifelong learning. Nona is trained in Facilitated Communication which helps give her great confidence with interacting and communicating with people with disabilities and their families and carers. Nona also shares the same passion for the performing arts and most recently she helped produce two successful community plays for people with disabilities.

The Tertiary PLACE has long been a dream of these two sisters – a dream that finally came true when the doors to this centre opened in 2010 (see Angela and Nona believe what the Prophet Joseph Smith taught when he said, "all the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement" (TPJS, pp. 351-54).

"We realised that for the majority of special needs students, once school finished there was little opportunity to continue formal learning. Our practice is guided by the belief that people with disabilities can make valuable contributions to society and can achieve, learn and grow throughout their lives," said Angela.

"Only 35% of our funding comes from government, so we need to conduct much of our own fundraising. We did this recently with a concert of performances by our students with a program that included original songs and piano recitals that culminated in an original musical play," said Nona.

Another LDS friend, Mary McKenna, is the co-ordinator of SportSTAR (Support, Transition, Affiliation, Recognition), which is an initiative of The Tertiary PLACE and provides weekly sport and physical activities for those with disability 16 years and over.

"We encourage people to get active, get out into the community and have some fun playing sport," said Mary. "We have already seen SportSTAR participants go from never having played sport to, for example, playing basketball in a team. The physical, social and emotional benefits are significant."


This article is a preview of an Ensign insert that should be published in the next three months


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