The Sunshine Butterflies group is staying connected through online technology.
The Sunshine Butterflies group is staying connected through online technology.

Support group ‘virtually’ looking after each other

WHEN it comes to a crisis one disability support service is letting its imagination take wing to combat its COVID-19 challenges.

In order to keep its community connected and supported, Sunshine Butterflies disability support service based at Cooroibah has introduced Butterfly TV, a "brilliant" video chat-based program using the Zoom app.

This program allows their members to interact with each other and their support workers through a 'virtual face-to-face' experience, meaning they can all be together again.

Members all participate in an introductory sharing circle, letting their friends know what they've been up to and how they are feeling, under the guidance of the support staff.

They are then broken off into smaller groups within the video chat, where they participate in various games, activities and educational programs from the comfort of their own home.

On the agenda thus far has been incredible live performances from local acts like Taylor Moss, tours of the Therapy Animals at 'Our Backyard', fitness and meditation sessions and of course all the favourite Sunshine Butterflies educational and recreational programs, like 'Our Farmyard Cooking School, 'Chippies Corner' and 'Kiss My Art'.

"We have been running this program for a few weeks now and it has already achieved outstanding results with our members," Sunshine Butterflies Zoom coordinator Liam Kenny said.

"The ability to give people living with a disability a safe space to interact during this time is so important, and we knew had to introduce something to combat the devastating closure of our facilities."

Sunshine Butterflies identifies first and foremost as being a place of support, connection and social interaction.

When the charity closed its doors in March, so many people were devastated by the immediate loss of these key components, especially the members and families who rely heavily on those services.

"We introduced Butterfly TV shortly after our closure and we have already had an outpouring of support from our community," program support Linda Grams said.

"It is allowing our members to achieve similar experiences as they would in our day programs, as well create a sense of connection and give them something to look forward to every week."

Sunshine Butterflies have always stood by their vision of creating an all-inclusive environment and this is right on brand for them yet again.

"We believe that although we may have to physically distance from one another, we don't have to socially distance," Ms Grams said.

"Connection is the most important thing to us all."

Sunshine Butterflies is running 'Butterfly TV' on a weekly schedule and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

They have been able to completely change the way they do things in the interest of those most at need and that's a pretty incredible thing to see come out of such difficult circumstances.

Sunshine Butterflies is still servicing the local community through one-on-one support, their social enterprise 'Sunshine Gardens' and now through their new initiative Butterfly TV.