Adelaide teenager Logan Walker, who is non-verbal and lives with autism and intellectual disability, had a dream come true on his milestone 13th birthday when he rode a city bus for the first time in years.
Like many boys his age, Logan Walker loves trains, planes and automobiles. But buses are his favourite.
“He has always had a thing for buses. When he was four or five and he used to talk, he would sit on a bus and say ‘doors open, doors closed, long bus, short bus’,” said Logan’s mum, Koa Taylor of Para Hills.
But these days, things are different. Logan’s complex disabilities mean he can’t use public transport anymore.
“He needs two carers with him at all times and it isn’t safe to take him on a bus with people he doesn’t know,” said Koa.
But on his 13th birthday, Logan was greeted by a bus on his doorstep, ready to take him on a celebratory ride.
“I was so excited, and just amazed our support coordinator Kieran Murphy at My Ability Australia was able to pull this off,” said Koa. “This was really a dream come true for all of us.”
Two NDIS providers who support Logan and his family, My Ability Australia and Autism Adelaide, teamed up to make it all happen.
Adelaide Metro gave its stamp of approval, and bus operator Torrens Transit provided a free bus and driver to surprise Logan on his birthday.
Logan and his family and carers had the bus to themselves for an express ride into the city, before returning home for a birthday barbecue and a visit from Santa.
“I have to give credit to Torrens Transit for putting it on, because it’s something that costs money and they did this for free, which is just amazing,” said Koa.
“I want to personally thank all the people who organised this. It was just amazing. Logan was so happy.”
Logan’s grandfather Chris Carpenter travelled from Port Pirie to join Logan and several other family members for the ride along Adelaide’s guided busway, the O-Bahn.
“It’s been quite a while since we’ve been with Logan on a bus. It’s just been a magic day,” said Chris.
NDIS carers and behaviour therapy support workers from Autism Adelaide rode along with Logan to help keep him comfortable and safe.
“I'm stoked and so excited,” said co-founder of My Ability Australia and Autism Adelaide, Paralympic cyclist Kieran Murphy.
“I'm legally blind, so I get on buses every day. This was the most exciting bus trip in my life.
“The NDIS is about goals, and we've achieved a goal that was about getting Logan on a bus, something that he can't do with the general public because of his disability. And, you know, we were able to make it happen.”
Clint Feuerherdt, Group CEO of the company that operates Torrens Transit, said they were delighted to be involved.
“We were thrilled to welcome Logan on board the O-Bahn and help celebrate his birthday,” he said.
“We’re proud to have assisted the groups that support Logan daily to deliver this joyful experience for him!”
My Ability Australia coordinates Logan’s NDIS support services, and Autism Adelaide provides behaviour therapy, all funded through Logan’s NDIS plan.
Logan’s plan also includes funding for accommodation, support workers, behaviour therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, a dietician, and exercise physiology.