Twenty-one year old Queenslander, Joshua Ball’s dream was to put on his work boots and high-vis shirt and mow the lawn on top of Parliament House.
As one of three winners of Endeavor Foundation’s inaugural ‘Imagine what’s possible’ competition, that wish recently became a reality.
Endeavour Foundation arranged for Joshua and his Mum, Linda, to fly from Brisbane to Canberra for a chance to mow Australia’s most famous lawn and meet Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“When we entered the ‘Imagine what’s possible’ competition, I probably sent it in as a bit of a jest. I never expected for a moment that Endeavour would take on that challenge,” Linda said.
Looking at the entry form, Linda said she kept thinking, “I might make it symbolic.”
“We were thinking about the best piece of grass in Australia that we’d come across and the grass on top of Parliament House is beautiful,” Linda explained.
Joshua’s entry stood out amongst more than 400 entries from people with intellectual disability across Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales.
“Of all our incredible entries, Josh’s dream was one of the standouts because it was so unique but also highlighted one of his other dreams – to have gainful employment,” said Endeavour Foundation’s Interim Chief Operating Officer, Kerin McMahon.
When the big day finally came, Josh’s Mum, Linda, said their feelings were a mixture of anxiety and excitement when they arrived at Parliament House.
“In the foyer, I was completely amazed that Joshy wasn’t completely overwhelmed by it, but he was just glowing,” Linda said.
“When we stepped out of the lift onto the roof it was like, ‘It’s really happening’.
“It was just ridiculously amazing.”
Brock, Department of Parliamentary Services, Landscaping team member, was on-hand to settle Josh into his dream job and show him the ropes. After seeing Josh’s ability behind the wheel, Brock gave him a big tick of approval.
“Yeah, I was thinking we might be able to offer him a job,” he said.
Josh’s Mum was equally impressed.
“Watching Josh mow, it was just the proudest moment of my life. He was showing the world what he was capable of and everybody was applauding him,” said Linda.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten were also on hand give Josh a pat on the back for a job well done.
“Bill Shorten walked along the length of the grass watching Josh mow and congratulating him at the end. I thought that was rather lovely.” Linda said.
Prime Minister Morrison was also full of praise, saying, “Good on you Josh. Mate, you’ve done a great job.”
For Linda, that was the highlight of the day.
“Joshua gave Mr Morrison a really nice handshake and said, “Nice to meet you Mr Morrison.”
“I was so proud of him – he had been practicing. Sometimes as a Mum you forget that your children have grown up.”
Josh’s experience at Parliament House is a big step towards his goal of mowing lawns full-time, which would be the culmination of a life-long dream.
“Joshua has autism and from a very early age we found that he always wanted to be outside – he found it quite relaxing,” Linda said.
“When he got a little bit older, his Dad would pop him on his lap and take him mowing around the yard and Josh really liked that.
“From the time our children are born we start to dream about the future and what it holds for them. When you have a child with a disability, you have to recalibrate what possibilities are there for them.
“To do the job that you are passionate about… and at the end of the day to be told you’ve done a good job – it gives you a happiness that you can’t gain from anything else.
“I guess that’s what we all want for our kids.”
When Linda asked Josh if he would like to work for Brock, Josh’s immediate answer was “Yes”.
The inaugural ‘Imagine what’s possible’ competition was run in partnership with Cherry Energy Solutions, COACT and Community Solutions Group. Plans are already underway for the competition to enter its second year in 2019.
Endeavour Foundation supports more than 4000 people living with disability in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales across a range of services including supported employment, Learning and Lifestyle day services and supported independent living.
When you purchase a ticket in an Endeavour Foundation Prize Home Lottery, you are helping to provide opportunities for people with an intellectual disability to learn life skills, live independently, have a job they love, and be actively involved in their local communities.