Anyone who went down into town on Christmas morning would have had their hearts lifted by having a look at the heart-shaped messages hung on the lakefront trees. The initiative was the brainchild of Renon Sasaki and the M!NT Charitable Trust, a group devoted to supporting those with intellectual disabilities. Renon’s mother and co-owner of local Japanese restaurant Sasanoki, Yumi Sasaki was a founding member of the charity and explained that, “we help people with intellectual disabilities be part of community events and extracurricular activities as well as long term plans, helping them live independently with a place in their communities.”
With permission from council, Renon hung 33 poems up on trees around the lakefront for passers-by to read, in the hope of spreading Christmas love. Some of the messages read: “hang in there, ‘cause everything’s going to be okay;” “you are unique in your own special way and that makes you so beautiful,” and, “a friend is someone who brightens your day with a smile, a warm hello of gentle words from the heart: thank you for your friendship.”
M!NT is a small group of four local families working on a voluntary basis to support youth and young adults with additional intellectual needs. Established in 2018 and becoming an incorporated group with charitable status in 2019, the group’s vision is, “strength together to
achieve a good life for our children.” Currently, local youth and young adults with additional needs have no or limited access to community events and extracurricular activities and rely on families to seek, organise and fund these opportunities.