Journey to Inclusion
November 27 2023
The surname Osman is associated with some of the Gold Coast’s most beautiful residential and commercial architecture. However, there is far more to award-winning building designer Stuart Osman and his wife, Linda.
In September, Linda took out the ‘Angel Among Us’ category in the Gold Coast Bulletin’s Woman of the Year Awards.
She was awarded the honour for her work as the founder, chair and CEO of Journey 2 Learn, a not-for-profit charity supporting children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families in making the transition into mainstream schools.
To achieve their vision, Linda and Stuart established a specialised education facility on their acreage property that is designed to replicate a typical classroom. The space is utilised to teach children with autism, aged from four years old, the skills required to thrive in a mainstream education setting.
To date, the program has supported 40 children and their families, but as awareness and enquiry grow, so has the space required to accommodate them.
Through its community fund, Kollosche has donated $15,000 to cover the cost for a relocatable classroom or ‘pod’ to be installed at the existing site.
The pod will provide a quiet and private space to teach children social-emotional learning and to serve as a designated area where the children can go to regulate their emotions or work independently.
“The funding from Kollosche is the most substantial we’ve had in quite some time,” Linda says.
“It will allow us to better support our existing students and welcome more families into the program.”
The Kollosche Community Fund was established in 2021 to provide a platform through which the agency’s sales agents and employees could give back to their local communities. A percentage of every sale made goes into the fund, where it is distributed among local charities, sporting organisations and worthy individuals.
The inspiration for Journey 2 Learn comes from Linda and Stuart’s own experience, with the youngest of their four children, Larz, having Level 3 ASD.
Strong believers in the value of involvement in social and educational settings, the family supported Larz through a 30-hour week, at-home program to prepare him for placement at Hillcrest Christian College.
While Larz’s time at the college started at just two hours per day, a specialist approach, tailored curriculum and behavioural support led him to gradually transition into full-time mainstream schooling within his first year.
Having seen the benefits of her sons’ supported development, Linda was motivated to help other children with ASD to do the same.
“There are so many other families on our journey and as a mum I feel the need to support as many of them as I can.”
The facility and its 20-strong staff are dedicated to helping students to develop, with a focus on boosting confidence, developing social and emotional skills, increasing attention spans and fostering tolerance towards the sensory experiences that come with typical classrooms.
“It’s about identifying their unique strengths and differences and nurturing those areas to empower them to thrive in mainstream schools,” says Linda.
This is achieved through the one-to-one support of each child, with the aim of gradually lengthening the time they are able to spend actively participating in regular schooling.
A number of the Gold Coast’s regarded private schools, including All Saints Anglican School, Gold Coast Christian College, Hillcrest Christian College and Somerset College, have welcomed the program and its students into their classrooms.
“The skills they can learn from their teachers and neurotypical peers are what they need to adapt and thrive in the community,” says Linda.
THE BIG PICTURE
Linda is a strong advocate for inclusive schooling, and is determined to educate the local community on the benefits it has on not only children with ASD, but neurotypical students as well.
Donations from local individuals and organisations are the key to allowing Linda to expand the Journey 2 Learn site and its impact.
Find out more about the Kollosche Community Fund.