Working alongside young people, providing them with equal opportunities and giving them the respect they deserve is at the heart of the Y philosophy. And for Auskick coach and Y volunteer Andrew Lozanovski, it’s also at the heart of the work he does every day in some of the more challenging and rewarding Y programs –supporting and empowering people with disabilities.
Having worked with the AFL and Auskick for more than five years, Andrew is able to tackle many of the Y’s disability programs in Whittlesea, 40km North East of Melbourne, with inspiring energy and passion, injecting a touch of his footy fanaticism into every young person he works with.
While all YMCAs are inclusive, several including The Y in Whittlesea runs a variety of programs for children, teens and young people with disabilities, all designed to show respect and understanding regardless of ability, something not always found in mainstream schools or programs.
Andrew is a part of many of these programs, from camps to school holiday programs and also showcasing his forte for one on one work as a member of the support care program. It was through this one on one work that Andrew met Charlie, a young boy with non-verbal autism who is just one of many children that Andrew has been able to help in his relatively short time with the Y. Charlie’s disabilities can often present challenges for his mum and his carers, at times requiring two staff to properly look after him.
In spite of Charlie’s high level of needs and tendency to be easily frustrated by others, Andrew has been one of the few people able to break down the walls of Charlie’s autism, developing a deep connection with him simply through genuine care, respect and a good kick of the footy.
Andrew’s approach to his work mirrors the core values of the Y as a whole as they work together to provide unconditional support, understanding and opportunity to those who need it most. Andrew puts it best by posing the simple question, “If we’ve got an opportunity to make someone else happy, why wouldn’t we do it?”.
Each afternoon that Andrew and Charlie spend together kicking the footy in a connectedness that requires no words is just one of the Million Moments that make the Y and its work so crucial to empowering Australia’s young people.
“If we’ve got an opportunity to make someone else happy, why wouldn’t we do it?”
– Andrew lozanovski