Longtime supporters of Grow a Star will know Kallan Strong. He is pictured here with Grow a Star Coordinator Shane Marshall and Home in Place Events and Community Relations Manager Michelle Faithfull.
Kallan was referred to the Grow a Star program in 2015 by his paediatrician. He was just 15 and dealing with bullying and stigma associated with his Autism Spectrum Disorder. Kallan had a passion for the sport of ten pin bowling at the time and found this was a place he could escape the noise and focus on something that made him happy.
Kallan’s mum, Lee, said the Grow a Star program has been instrumental in helping Kallan to reach the top level in his sport. Originally, the program assisted him with specialist coaching for six months and this enabled him to get to his first national championships in Melbourne in 2015.
Over the past seven years, Kallan has been selected to compete in the NSW state team at the National Disability Titles, captaining the team for the last three years and he will be travelling to Melbourne in June 2022 to defend their national title once again. Kallan has competed in countless state and national championships, winning over 160 medals and numerous titles.
His achievements in the sport helped him to earn a place in the Central Coast Queen’s Baton Relay for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and he was awarded “Athlete with a Disability - Bowler of the Year” at the TBA NSW State Awards in 2019. He has also been a finalist in the Central Coast Sports Awards every year since 2018 and was a nominee as Sportsperson with a Disability of the Year at the Central Coast Sports Awards in 2021.
In 2020, Kallan completed his Diploma of Photography & Design at TAFE and in 2021 he was awarded, Student of the Year and Creative Design Ideation Student of the Year at the TAFE Excellence Awards in 2021.
He set up his own photography business in 2021 (Kallan Strong Photography) and has already won several photography competitions and recently engaged his first business clients, photographing several events and numerous wedding on the Central Coast, Port Stephens and Sydney.
Kallan and his mum, Lee don’t have much family around and Lee says the financial support from Grow a Star and particularly the mentoring from Coordinator, Shane Marshall has been really important for both of them.
“To have other people show an interest in you and support you in reaching your goals has been so beneficial for Kal." says Lee.
"We have always appreciated the opportunities that Grow a Star have provided Kal and he now wants to ‘give back’ to the program, by participating in the upcoming Trek for the Stars, fundraising adventure in Cradle Mountain in November 2022.”
The trek will see participants undertake a 5-day hike around the spectacular Cradle Mountain National Park as part of a fundraising campaign for Grow a Star.
Each participant is also tasked with raising $3,000 each for the program.
Kallan is keen to take his camera on this adventure, and capture all of the action on the ground.