A heartwarming story about a boy, some cricket bats and Art.
We are also known as Willo and we have a clear purpose. To inspire authentic connections for all people who live with intellectual challenges to their community.
People with intellectual challenges, or more commonly known as neurodiversity, constitute a very high risk of exclusion at a community level. They are often denied opportunities to fully participate in the activities of their communities because they are seen as not able: they are seen as disabled.
Willo inspires communities to connect with disability and turn fear and ignorance into acceptance and understanding.
Willo has inspired artists worldwide to paint cricket bats that have been refurbished by community groups and, people living with intellectual challenges.
The bats are exhibited and auctioned, and 100% of funds raised goes into creating community-owned, community-driven and community-managed services, places and programs for “all abilities” within the various communities.
These communities are united through cricket, and art, and conversations that revolve around inclusion.
Willo communities work to build sustainable relationships and forge lasting change in how all people are seen, accepted and included.
Importantly, to stop the belief that it is ok to isolate and exclude people deemed different, and lacking in ability.
Willo believes that if we can change the behaviour of individuals' behaviour, we can change the behaviour of communities.
Where There’s a Will … there is always a way.
Ange Clarke CEO & Founder
Will is a young man who lives with Autism Spectrum Disorder. For most of his life, he has been faced with significant challenges. Will cannot read or write and finds conversational communication challenging. In addition, his fine and gross motor skills are affected, which means he cannot do the most basic daily tasks, and requires assistance with certain aspects of his daily life.
At 24 years old he has played and loved cricket since he was seven.
In order for Will to participate, his family have always had to create the opportunity, and Will had to rise to those challenges. So, with Wills tenacity and resilience, his love of life and his passionate love of sport, especially cricket, we started Where There’s A Will.
The idea was to teach Will skills through refurbishing cricket bats.
It is now the catalyst for communities to learn how to change the way they see, include, and support people with intellectual and physical challenges.
Not only has Will rallied together a massive community throughout Australia, but he has also created more awareness about the ability in the disability, the need for communities to come together to integrate and support those living with differences and, he has combined a love of cricket and art into amazing exhibitions.
Will has engaged with the local men's shed in Bowral, Robertson, Heyfield and Minlaton and numerous schools to help with the bats' sanding and mentor people with intellectual disabilities to increase their skills.
Willo has partnered with numerous disability support providers across Australia to become a place of skill development, and mentoring, for young people living with intellectual disabilities. Refurbishing, packaging and sourcing the bats as the demand grows for exhibitions around Australia.
Will has become the inspiration behind Willo and travels communities to invite people to get to know him on behalf of all those who live with intellectual challenges.
He is inspiring and influential because he lives life authentically and by example, and inspires people to see beyond the label, the behaviour and the perceived disabilities. To affect one person at a time means we can affect the behaviour of communities to be more inclusive.
The latest community exhibition of artist decorated cricket bats is in Heyfield, Victoria and has been supported by a number of MAVA Inc. Artists. The live event and auction is this Saturday evening, November 6, at Heyfield Memorial Hall.
About Heyfield Bats for Will
Regional Victorian Artist and Willo Ambassador Tams Hesz (@soul.stories) connected 120 incredible and diverse artists from around Australia to her town of 2000 residents. In addition, she has taught, mentored, and inspired 72 children from Heyfield Primary School to create art on a cricket bat and talk about inclusive behaviour.
Tams has motivated the men's sheds from Heyfield, Maffra, Stratford and Sale to help refurbish cricket bats. She has spoken on numerous media platforms, delivered cricket bats across the state and, inspired Heyfield Cricket Club to support her mission for Heyfield to be part of the Willo dream of inclusive communities.
Tams has become part of a team of people inspiring their communities to change for the better. The Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry found that the major barriers for people with disabilities to engage within their communities include lack of access to education and training, inaccessible work environments, misconceptions, stigma, and discrimination. For this reason, Willo and Heyfield and the participating artists are collaborating to support this wonderful cause.
If you are one of the MAVA artists who have painted a bat for @heyfieldbatsforwill, let us know in the comments so everyone can check out your work!