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Introducing Kindship, Australia’s first social networking app built by and for parents raising children with neurodiversity, disabilities, and delays. With a re-launch in April this year, the Kindship team have already created the Country’s fastest growing social network for parents of children with disabilities. In a mere 8 months they have appeared on channel 10 and 7 news, featured in countless editorial articles (Including The Australian, The advertiser, Kidspot, 9honey and Mamamia), made appearances on many popular podcasts (Too Peas in a podcast being a highlight) and successfully crowd funded over $1million to build a new feature called The Kindship Wallet.

Left to Right: Steph Wicks, Tara Thompson, Sandy Golder and Summer Petrosius

Summer Petrosius social entrepreneur, qualified speech therapist and CEO of the popular app is autistic herself and while working with children on the spectrum she had a moment of realisation, ‘What about the parents?’ Who is taking care of them?

Summer began speaking to these parents, literally hundreds of them from all around the world she recognised and wanted to do something about the loneliness and isolation that majority of them felt. Her husband Andrius conveniently had 20 years of tech and product management experience and a track record of building successful app startups; from there they had a dream to change the world.

“We had the tech built and this encompassed the body of Kindship but what was missing was the heart. It was missing the parents with lived experience to take Kindship to the next level, to generate its heart to beat” Summer described.

This is when Sandy Golder and Steph Wicks came on board, bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and an ever so successful grassroots parent community along with Tara Thompson, writer and influencer. The three co-founders have children with disabilities and along with Summer share an unstoppable passion for supporting and empowering parents. “We want to re-write the narrative around what raising a child with a disability looks like” Tara exclaims.

Currently Kindship has 2,500 active users on the app, 90+ parent volunteers and outside the app are facilitating over 30 face-to-face meetup locations across Australia. Alongside this they have a social media following of 21,000 and a highly engaged Facebook group with over 4,700 parents. Parent user Marisol Gonzalez explains ‘It is a place where you can learn from one another through a genuine understanding from others who simply get it’.

Community is really the heart of this organisation and co-design is a culture that was set very early on. In early September this year Kindship conducted a NDIS family impact survey in which 1000+ parents completed. Key findings from this research showed that parents spend an average of 4hrs a week navigating the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme). 75% of parents reported feeling isolated and disconnected due to time spent trying to navigate this service and 95% reported that they did not have all the resources, budgeting tools and knowledge needed to optimise their NDIS funding for their child’s needs.

Kindship team expanded on their vision of their current social media app to build a new service, The Kindship Wallet. The NDIS support tool that 77% of Kindship parents can’t wait for! The new tool will provide parents with financial and administrative support to make the most out of their child’s NDIS plan (without the stress).

There are currently 259,000 children under the age of 18 with an active NDIS plan. Kindship assists their parents, not only by providing support and connection on their free social network but now with plans to offer a plan management service which is one of a kind.

“Marrying tech with community to deliver a holistic approach to what is described by many families as a challenging and stressful process” co-founder Steph Wicks explains. It seems that many are on board with this venture as Kindship has just completed a very successful Birchal crowd funding campaign in which 600 investors wanted to become a part of the Kindship movement.

CEO Summer states “We believe that when parents are informed, they are empowered and when parents are empowered, they can change the world. We champion the contribution of lived experience and have and continue to provide flexible employment opportunities for parents raising children with disabilities”. Co -founder Sandy adds “76.2% of our parents have said that inflexible working conditions were a major factor in many carers being unable to work consistently. We want to change these statistics! And that is a major vision of our employment strategy for the Kindship Wallet”.

Kindship is currently focusing on completing the development and testing of its wallet feature and releasing an updated version of their social app experience. The organisation continues to go from strength to strength while making a positive difference to thousands of families along the way.

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