This is sponsored content for Songbird.
When Cindy Modderman heard about a new program that involved people getting together to beat out rhythms on rubber exercise balls she thought it might be a good weekly activity for her daughter.
The Morpeth mum had no idea about the significant impact the program, called Drums Alive, would have on Laura, a 22-year-old whose intellectual disability means she's non verbal and also has trouble focusing and concentrating on tasks.
"We have not looked back," said Cindy. "There have just been so many benefits across so many aspects of her life, from a learning point of view, to a health point of view, and socially. It's amazing."
"You would not imagine that something so simple can make such a massive difference to people. Plus she loves going; she goes twice a week for four hours, she performs with the group when they do shows out in the community, and is just completely engaged with it."
The US-based program was brought to the Hunter by innovative local disability support and accommodation support services organisation Songbird.
It's just one aspect of the work Songbird has been doing since it was launched just over four years ago by Newcastle man Mike Wood.
Mr Wood developed the idea of Songbird after retiring from his construction management career. He found he missed the challenges of working life and started looking for a way to give back to the community.
After meeting several couples concerned about the future care of their adult children with disabilities he decided to join forces with his sister who operated a disability respite service.
His vision was to set up an organisation that would provide a more modern, progressive style of Supported Independent Living (SIL) and support to the children of the parents he had met.
The first three Songbird SIL homes opened in 2015 and a year later Songbird was named the 2016 Disability Service of the Year.
Today Songbird operates 11 homes and has continued to expand its services as part of its mission to help people living with disabilities become more independent, active members of their communities.
One of those people benefiting from the people-centred approach Songbird takes with its SIL homes is Glen O'Neile, who has lived in various group and assisted living homes since he was 16 years old.
Since August, Glen has lived in the modern new Songbird home he shares with three housemates who work as a team to run the household with the help of their support workers.
Now 43, Glen recently began work as a groundsman at Newcastle University's Callaghan campus and is enjoying two of his biggest loves - entertaining people with his DJ skills and working out in the gym set up in the home's garage.
He said it is the best home he has lived in. "I get to do my own thing here," he said. "I can go out on walks, and go running. I can make my own decisions."
Pauline Walker, team leader at the home said she has seen a big difference in Glen including in his health.
"He's lost about nine kilograms, he has a healthier diet and he loves having his own gym to use," she said. "The support workers are getting fitter too because they go running with him."
Songbird CEO, Mike's son Matt, said Songbird's mission is to empower individuals living with disabilities, helping them live with independence in their community, and change their lives for the better.
And he said the NDIS had allowed organisations like Songbird to drastically improve the care of people with disabilities.
"This means they have the opportunity to live more normal lives, get involved and give back to their local communities," he said. "We've seen and been a part of many wonderful stories of people's lives being transformed."
"Through our supported independent living accommodation and day program Drums Alive we're supporting people to achieve their goals, and become active members of their local community.
"Our focus is helping individuals thrive, no matter what their ability."
If you know someone living with a disability and not receiving the support they need to live life to the fullest, give Songbird a call on 02 4048 4220 or head to the Songbird website. Songbird can help out directly, help to navigate the NDIS or refer you to one of their partner providers.
This is sponsored content for Songbird.