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By Justin Flynn

Ocean Grover Stephen Meaney is a keen woodworker and plies his skills every Tuesday at the Men’s Shed.
Stephen is accompanied by support worker Ryan Coombes and the guys at the shed love having him there.
Stephen is a picture of concentration when the Voice visited. Keenly painting some model wooden planes, Stephen is hard at work.
Stephen’s story is a result of the work from Bellarine Connections, an initiative of Karingal St Laurence (KSL).
“It’s great to see Stephen getting involved in such a wonderful group as the Men’s Shed and the members being so supportive and welcoming,” Bellarine Connections’ Lee Considine said.
“People come to Men’s Sheds from a whole range of backgrounds, Stephen is just one of them.”
KSL is a disability support organisation with branches and spaces locally and beyond. Bellarine Connections aims to support, develop and facilitate community inclusion by supporting people to become involved in and contribute to their local community on the Bellarine Peninsula.
It’s a new initiative and is growing steadily.
“We currently are involved in some fantastic connections and partnerships with the Ocean Grove Men’s Shed, Ocean Grove Senior Citizens, a photo project entitled ‘People of Ocean Grove’, the Bellarine Aquatic Centre, Ocean Grove Neighbourhood Centre, the Ocean Grove Community Garden and the Ocean Grove Park Association just to name a few,” Mr Considine said.
“Our focus is on people being able to access and belong whatever their ability – it’s about building communities where all are welcome. We have started with a focus on Ocean Grove but will be looking to other communities on the Bellarine also.”
Participants like Stephen have been involved at:
* Ocean Grove Men’s Shed.
* A photography project ‘People of Ocean Grove’ towards becoming more connected with the local community, developing partnerships and contributing by highlighting important local community members. This will culminate in an annual calendar and photo exhibition, possibly at the Ocean Grove Neighbourhood Centre.
* Involvement in the Ocean Grove Senior Citizens.
* Membership of the Ocean Grove Community Garden.
* Development of a new Community Kitchen based at the Ocean Grove Neighbourhood Centre.
* Planning toward community planting days and a possible local arts trail.
* Planning towards community focused adventure/recreation and community art activities in the coming months.
Mr Considine said Bellarine Connections appreciated and value the support of the Bellarine community and that participants were very excited about the future.

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