Daydream Machine is a Canberra STEM-based studio (established January 2022), running programs to support young neurodivergent people (10-21 years) to explore their interests and talents in music, arts and technology. Daydream Machine runs tailored programs for every participant with defined project outcomes in a safe, inclusive learning space – the students are learning specialised industry-standard skills in areas of their interest, developing realistic, exciting career pathways.
All of Daydream Machine activities have been developed with the sole aim of enhancing the inclusion of young people with disability – this has been achieved by providing an inspiring, safe, inclusive space for young people with disability to meet other like-minded people and explore, develop and showcase their creative fields of interest. Daydream Machine, which was founded by 2022 ACT Local Hero and 2021 YOGIES Outstanding Youth Worker Luke Ferguson, uses the power of music, art and film to break down barriers to participation and enhance self esteem of young neurodivergent people, shifting the focus to their innate gift to spark joy in others. Daydream Machine is removing stigma and changing people’s perceptions of what young people with disability are capable of.
- This year, Daydream Machine’s participants have, amongst many other things:
- Collaborated with the United Nations Information Centre on numerous projects including a UN ‘Pause’Campaign disco at St Vincents Primary to raise awareness about the spread of misinformation.
- Participated in the Disability Strategy Conversation with the Office for Disability.
- Performed at an AOTY Luncheon.
- Had three finalists in the National Edstart Achievement Awards – one student, 12 year-old Grace, won the Performing Arts category and is using prize money to record an album.
- Been interviewed by the Canberra Times/ABC Radio about their various projects.
- Performed live at several DM showcase gigs (all performers got paid) – the Minister for Disability attended the concerts, spoke with the students and purchased some of their art.
- Performed at a UC Inclusion Day event.
- Received four awards at the 2022 ACT Children’s Day Awards.
- Planned a DM Expo for Dec.
As all DM activities are student-led, developed with their input, it is sustainable. Participants are passing on their new-found knowledge/skills to their peers – that’s when true change happens, and community inclusion is really impacted.