A chance meeting between an American psychology student and a YellowBridge disability support worker during a USA summer camp planted the seed for a cross-cultural exchange program.

Fourth year Psychology student Jake Purnell from Pennyslvania spent his recent summer vacation as a support worker at Talisman Camp, a highly regarded camp for young people with learning differences.

The camp is located in North Carolina and provides an outdoor adventure program for people aged 6 to 22 with autism spectrum disorders, ADHD and Aspergers.

There he met Lachy Olm, a disability support worker with YellowBridge, who had also joined the three-month summer camp program to expand his knowledge and experience.

The two young men shared similar interests and ideas and quickly formed a friendship. At the end of the camp they returned to their home towns with an idea.

Six months later, Jake arrived in Toowoomba to start his nine week work experience stint at YellowBridge with Lachy and the disability support team.

The trip was part of Jake’s university’s cross-cultural experience program which encourages students to embark on self-designed opportunities anywhere in the world.

Jake described the nine week experience as “absolutely amazing” and would love to see more of his university peers have the same opportunity.

It was his first time in Australia so before he had to fly home, Jake squeezed in some sightseeing including the Great Ocean Road and Whitsundays.

He readily admitted that he has been well and truly bit by the travel and cross-cultural bug.

Jake Purnell with YellowBridge QLD client Chris O’Shea

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