Community spirit and excitement filled the air as around 1,500 people gathered at Albert Park Lake to celebrate social inclusion.
It was a day free of worry, pre-planning and stress for people of all abilities at the Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH) and CityLink 2015 Out and About Fun Day.
Following an official welcome including speeches by VMCH Board Chair Bill Scales, Albert Park MP Martin Foley, CityLink Head of Public Affairs Tim Salathiel and Out and About Ambassador Luba Josevski, the day kicked off with an upbeat performance by all abilities dance group BAM Allstars.
Aussie rock music icon Ross Wilson was a huge hit, getting the crowd to its feet with his classic tunes including Eagle Rock. Melbourne indie band Wire Bird, playing for their third year, also impressed the crowd with their set.
Swinburne University’s beautiful pop-up sensory garden offered a calm oasis for people to wander through and experience the vibrant colour, touch and smell of its mainly edible plants and flowers, while the Cricket Victoria Melbourne Stars Bowling Tunnel was constantly filled with people of all ages and abilities trying their hand at the sport, with help from spinner Michael Beer.
The animal farm was a favourite with little and big and kids alike, along with the face painting station where kids were transformed into colourful fairies, tigers and butterflies.
VMCH’s Wellbeing Team worked hard all day, offering people free, relaxing massages, while inside the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (MSAC) event goers enjoyed modified sports including basketball and a Tennis Australia clinic joined by tennis champ Luba Josevski.
Grubby and Dee Dee’s live broadcast from the on-site 3AW broadcast van ensured all Melbournians were part of the fun, while roving MC’s Pat Panetta and Amanda Brocklebank did a fantastic job of engaging the crowd.
People were kept full and refreshed, fuelled by 119kgs of snags, 60 slabs of water, 800 ice creams, six boxes of fruit, 25kgs of onions and 160 loaves of bread.
Michelle Calder, from the Mornington Peninsula, attended with her family for the second year running.
“The kids loved the face painting and the different activities,” Michelle said. “It’s a great day out and you feel so well looked after.”
Troy Hillas travelled from Cranbourne with his daughter Giaan, 14, who was part of BAM Allstars.
“It’s great that a lot of the things are free and it’s great to raise awareness about accessibility,” Troy said.
VMCH CEO Greg Pullen described the day as a “huge success”.