How we help Step Up Latrobe Valley Naomi's Story Naomi was referred to Ladder by the Local Learning Employment Network. It was hoped that through participating in the Step Up Latrobe Valley program she would build her confidence and form new social connections. After finishing high school Naomi wanted to enrol in further educational opportunities and find employment however her lack of self-belief, largely attributed to her disability, proved too greater a barrier. When Ladder staff met with Naomi and her mother before the program commenced it was the first time Naomi had left the house in months due to strict social restrictions, made worse by her father’s health. At the beginning of the meeting her mother expressed concern that Naomi’s ‘shy and anxious personality’ may affect her participation however by the end Naomi was speaking freely with staff. Her mum commented “I just know this is going to be something special – it usually takes weeks after meeting new people for Meg to be able to talk this well”. In program, Development Coaches adjusted delivery to ensure it was inclusive of Naomi and she could fully engage. These modifications also challenged Naomi's peers. They were educated around inclusion and the role they each played in Naomi’s success and as individuals worked hard to breakdown barriers to participation. In addition to the group program, Naomi had weekly one-on-one coaching sessions with a Ladder Development Coach. In these sessions she began to open up and her confidence grew more and more each week. Naomi believes that the one-on-one sessions have helped her increase her confidence, independence and social skills. They were also often the only time she left the house (excluding group sessions) and she looked forward to them. Throughout the program Naomi’s family have also seen a big change in her with her Dad approaching staff to thank them for their work with Naomi stating “I can’t thank you enough for the work you have done with our girl, we have seen a big change in her and we really appreciate it”. Naomi and the Development Coaches decided that she would benefit from participating in another program, this time in a leadership role assisting the new participants in finding their feet within the program. At the beginning Naomi began to lose the confidence she had gained with the previous group however she worked with the Development Coaches to step up to the challenges instead of reverting back to old patterns of behaviour. As her confidence grew again Naomi embraced new roles within the group and by the end of program her quirky sense of humour began to shine through and she impressed staff and peers with her incredible photography and amazing culinary skills. Since completing program, Naomi has been linked in with a community mentor and they have completed an art class together. Naomi has come leaps and bounds over the two programs and with the support of her family and the Ladder team has decided that she will be enrolling in Tafe next year to complete a cake decorating course and has also secured a casual job at a local café as a Barista. We could not be prouder of Naomi and how far she has come. Over her 12 weeks with Ladder she has stepped out of her comfort zone and achieved her goals. We look forward to continuing to support Naomi through the new Step Up Latrobe Valley Alumni Program.