Making the most of opportunities at Cottage by the Sea

Our Stories

“The Cottage has done a lot for me with my education and everyday life.”

Bailey is a Cottage Alumni participant who has journeyed through seven years at Cottage by the Sea on the REEF and Mentor programs. He was part of the 2017 REEF intake from a primary school in Ballarat and has attended 30 camps over the years at Cottage, graduating from the Mentor program in 2023. In addition to his participation in the programs, Bailey has also volunteered at multiple Annual Fairs with his family and spoke at Cottage’s AGM in 2019.

In 2020, Bailey received a scholarship that funded a new laptop to use while home-schooling during Covid-19 lockdowns. “Getting the laptop is one of the best things I have ever got,” Bailey shared in a letter to Cottage that year. Not only did the laptop support Bailey’s schooling, it also helped him pursue his passion of sports – especially basketball. “I have been looking up all my favourite sports teams and players, looking at different results and stats. I’m hoping to do a basketball umpiring course when basketball goes back … the laptop is going to help in a lot of ways,” he continued.

Bailey has also won three Shine On Awards (previously called Shining Star Awards) during his time at Cottage:

  • 2018 Learning Award – 2nd-year REEF participant
  • 2019 Contribution Award – Mentor participant
  • 2021 Community Award – Mentor participant

His 2018 award funded some new basketball shoes which, when you learn more about Bailey’s background and personal circumstances, offered him so much more than a new pair of shoes. “Bailey has dreams of playing higher level basketball and due to developmental delays and the tumours he has, anything to assist in his comfort and help his confidence is beneficial to fulfilling his dream,” shared his mum Jenny.

According to Jenny, Bailey’s commitment to the programs at Cottage has been from her son’s caring nature. He loves interacting with others from different backgrounds and/or places. He still has friendships with other Cottage Alumni and they keep in touch on Facebook.

“From the interactions I have had with Bailey, he is a well-mannered young man who gives everything a go despite his limitations due to health,” shares Cottage Program Planner Dave Geary. Bailey has been diagnosed with a genetic disorder that has caused benign tumours to develop on his brain and leg. Despite this obstacle, Bailey is a positive person with a very supportive family.

He has really made the most of his opportunities at Cottage and will very rarely say no to giving something a go. But if he isn’t comfortable with something, he’ll let you know. This great communication is a good measure of his maturity. Bailey attended Ballarat Specialist School during his high school years and was School Captain in Year 12, which is an awesome achievement and a testament to his leadership skills.

As mentioned earlier, basketball is one of Bailey’s passions. In 2023, he tried out for the Ivor Burge Victorian team to play in the National Championship, which caters for people with an intellectual disability. In 2023, he made it into the team as an emergency player. In 2024, he made it into the team and went on to win the National Championship! “It just shows how much perseverance he has and also love of the game,” shares Dave.

“I have done some great things at the Cottage,” reflected Bailey in his 2020 letter. “Working at the AGM last year and giving a talk to all the people is something I wouldn’t normally do, but I’m glad I did. Helping at the Annual Fair in January with Mum and Dad was another great day. The Cottage has done a lot for me with my education and everyday life.”