G’day folks! As we stand on the brink of our 5th birthday, I thought it’d be cool to look back on some
of the milestones we’ve reached along the way. And so, in keeping with our running theme, here are
five key checkpoints that got us where we are today. Enjoy!
Chris’s TED Talk, May 2013
Way back in 2013, our Chief Enabling Officer, Chris Varney, gave a TED Talk (which you can watch
here) that laid the foundation for I CAN Network’s core philosophy; a Rethink on Autism from an “I
Can’t” to an “I Can” mindset.
A few months later, Tim Chan, another autism advocate and one of our ambassadors, also took the
stage at TED. Being non-verbal and having greater support requirements, it was a huge deal for Tim
to present in front of an audience of thousands, and that he did so is a testament to his courage and
determination. You can see his presentation here.
Our first I CAN Camp, April 2014
The following year, our fledgling organization set out to do something many people told us was
impossible and just wouldn’t work; a camp run by autistics, for autistics. We were flying by the seat
of our pants, and it was certainly a learning experience, but the results were nothing short of
magical. For a weekend, those of us who attended were able to share our interests and be ourselves
in a space where we were appreciated and understood. Since then, we’ve held almost twenty more
camps, each building on the groundwork laid back in those three hectic days out near Emerald four
and a half years ago.
Our first school program, July 2014
Our next step was to bring our Rethink on Autism into the school system, so that we could support
and empower students on the spectrum to succeed. Our first ever I CAN school was Marymede
Catholic College, and our contact there was the magnificent Julia Wake, who embraced our mission
whole heartedly and helped get our schools program off the ground. As of today, I CAN Network
operates in more than forty schools, both primary and secondary; we’ve come a long way in four
years, and it all started with Julia and Marymede.
Our official launch as a company, November 2015
After operating as a volunteer organization for two years, it was time to make things official. Nearly
three years ago now, we launched I CAN Network as a company at NAB Bank, Docklands. By this
point we already had several camps and school programs under our belt, and the time was right to
take things to the next level. I CAN Network was ready for prime time.
I CAN goes interstate, July 2017
As an organization that originated in Melbourne, I CAN Network naturally began building its base
from there. We made forays into regional Victoria, including the establishment of I CAN South West,
our branch in Warrnambool, but it wasn’t until 2017 that we were able to go interstate and bring I
CAN Network to sun-drenched Queensland. Since then, we have run six school programs there, as
well as the Sunshine State’s first I CAN Camp earlier this year.
A lot has happened in the last five years; it’s certainly been one heck of a journey, and it’s only just
beginning. Stay tuned for more Grapevine coverage, including the grand finale of our 5th Birthday
series, and have a Superb September!
Max Williams, Editor