True Stories: Simone McClenaughan – The power of words

Simone McClenaughanI can’t imagine a life without writing. I wanted to be a writer since I was a child and I never let go of that dream.

At uni I did a Bachelor of Arts, doing a double major in Creative Writing and Communication and a minor in Sociology. After I leapt into the world of writing, working on a range of consumer magazines in areas such as art, craft, homemaker, travel, health and fitness for over a decade.

But there was always a nagging in the back of my mind. I wanted to do something special, something worthy and important with my words.

A copywriter position came up at my local charity, Sylvanvale Foundation. I applied and have been here for over a year now. And I love it. The main part of my role is interviewing and photographing our services users – both children and adults with an intellectual disability for articles on the Sylvanvale website.

I get to give people a voice. I help them tell their stories and share it with the world. Everyone has a story to tell and it is my job to make it heard. I’ve been a scribe for people with a disability who have gotten married, travelled overseas, starred in movies, graduated from Tafe, become musicians, gone sailing, participated in fashion parades and gone in art exhibitions.

There is another really exciting thing that I get to do at Sylvanvale too. I teach a creative writing class for some of the adults in our day programs. Sylvanvale encourages staff to incorporate their interests into their work, so when I suggested starting a creative writing class, my managers jumped at the idea. Once a month a small group of imaginations meet with me and together we go on an adventure with words. We’ve written poems and comics and crazy stories involving blue giants and talking cats that have travelled to London to visit the Queen. I never know where our writing class will take us – but I always know I’ll have a good time, as do the day programs participants who are writing with me.

The power – and fun – of words is remarkable. It’s humbling to know that my words are helping make a difference to people with a disability.

Simone McClenaughan


Sylvanvale Foundation

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