Dean Cohen talks to Ashley about the challenges and rewards of running Melbourne’s Flying Fox camps for children with a disability
ALL DEAN COHEN knew when he graduated from Monash University with a Commerce degree was this.
“I was never, ever, ever going into the corporate world,” he told the latest Lap of Caulfield Park podcast.
A former Maccabi soccer player, he had some interest in working in the disability sector, and it was after having a kick in the park with an autistic child, following a request from the child’s parent, that his post-university path was established.
“We had fun…and that experience really changed my life. His mum was an amazing teacher, gave the energy and the skills to help him to do his best life and to do the same for other people.”
From that kick in the park, Flying Fox was born, with its single goal of ‘providing super fun, social life changing opportunities for young people with disability.’
From a camp for 19 people at Phillip Island, Flying Fox has grown into a year round program of camps, weekends away and other activities for 200 people supported by 700 fully-trained volunteers.
Many, but not all the participants and volunteers are drawn from the Jewish community, but its reach across Melbourne and Victoria is growing and plans are afoot for to grow the organisation across Australia.
Cohen is the chief executive officer at age 29 and on the podcast he talks about both the challenges and the opportunities faced by an organisation with a youthful focus.
He also discusses why volunteering with Flying Fox has captivated so many young members of the community, describing it as almost a “rite of passage” from them to get involved. There are those, he admitted, who get involved to burnish their CV, but invariably, they remain involved.
Cohen, who said he was awarded an OAM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours last month painted a vivid picture of working in the not-for-profit sector and said he can’t foresee a time when he moves into the corporate world.
A Lap of Caulfield Park is presented by Plus 61J in conjunction with the Jewish Museum of Australia. You can subscribe through Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.
Lap of Caulfield Park is presented by Plus 61J in conjunction with the Jewish Museum of Australia. Subscribe through Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.