Be tempted to sign up for something you’d love

Some of the many Expo participants… from left, ACT Fencing Association’s Michael Spencer, Bellyup Bellydance’s Amanda Finn, Southern Cross Garrison 501st Legion’s Shaun Boer and Rob Birtles, Folk Dance Canberra’s Rebecca Lane, Canberra Bike Polo’s Nick Dixon-Wilmshurst and Dairy the dog.

THE Connect and Participate Expo, on March 24, is basically an “O-Week” for adults, an interactive, fun event with live music, demonstrations and activities, says event organiser Nadia McGuire.

It’s an all-inclusive, all-ability, all-age, family-friendly day that has something for everyone. There will be special interest groups, sporting groups, art groups, music groups, bands, dance groups, choirs and volunteering groups.

“The aim is to provide opportunities for people from the community to connect with the community,” Nadia says.

“It’s about providing opportunities for people who might be socially isolated and want to get out there.

“This is a way to remove barriers and participate in something you enjoy.”

Nadia says there are many benefits of joining a group, which is not only beneficial for a person’s mental health, but also their physical health.

Canberra’s Black Tower Squad, which is part of the 501 Legion Southern Cross Garrison, has been going to the expo, at the Kingston Old Bus Depot, since it started in 2014.

Squad leader Mick Ferris says it’s basically a social club for people who have a passion for “Star Wars”, cosplay and also the community.

Mick’s been part of the group for a few years and says it’s like a second family to him.

He says it’s open to anyone who wants to join and has a mix of people from all backgrounds.

The Black Tower Squad volunteer their time at events and, as a payment, they ask people to donate to the Black Dog Institute, but Mick says it’s not mandatory and he purely enjoys dressing up and making people happy.

The squad also volunteers at hospitals and Mick says the best thing is walking into hospitals in costume and seeing children’s faces light up.

“We all love ‘Star Wars’, we love the legion and we love costumes,” he says.

Another group there on the day will be Canberra Bike Polo, which is essentially a sport played on bikes, where people hit the ball with a mallet to try score goals.

Canberra Bike Polo has been at the expo for about three years and its secretary Nick Dixon-Wilmshurst says as much as it’s a sport it’s also a community of many people who travel around the world to play.

Canberra Bike Polo has taken Nick to places such as Seattle, Malaysia and Singapore.

“It’s a co-ed sport and we’re welcoming to anyone, any gender, any age, any sexuality, we’re very accepting,” he says.

With a great atmosphere and plenty of entertainment, including comedian Laura Campbell, who will be the MC of the event, Nadia says the Connect and Participate Expo will ultimately be a great day out for anyone.

Connect and Participate Expo, Old Bus Depot, 21 Wentworth Avenue, Kingston, March 24.


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