What’s better than a day off paid for by the boss? Taking the day off and raising funds for people with spinal cord injuries! That’s what the Big Day Off (BDO) is all about.
BDO also happens to be this year’s charity partner for B&T‘s 30 Under 30 Awards, so we decided to chew the fat with Ben Hollands (managing director at Dutch Media and a board member of BDO) and Emily James (BDO ambassador) about the initiative.
The Big Day Off was inspired by country footballer James McQuillan who sustained a serious spinal cord injury, leading to quadriplegia, during a routine collision during an AFL game.
“Quite a few of us had connections with James, so we all got on board and supported him in the weeks and months that followed,” Hollands told B&T.
“Knowing James, it was a great opportunity to raise awareness and funds for all people who have suffered spinal injury. The Big Day Off came from that.”
The idea is a business register and offer a day off, then staff buy $5 raffle tickets in the draw to win a Big Day Off from their workplace. The more you buy, the more chances you have to win.
“Everybody likes a day off paid for by the boss.,” Hollands added.
“The real sentiment behind the Big Day Off is to go out and have some fun. We sort of take for granted the things we’ve got around us, whether it’s skiing, the beach, enjoying food and wine. We really want people to get out and explore the things around them. The positioning is ‘Go big on your big day off'”.
In the middle of last year, Emily James started working at Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) as a peer and social supports coordinator. Her job is to visit hospitals and spinal rehab centres across Sydney and offer informal peer support and formal education sessions.
When James was injured five years ago, SCIA offered her peer support during her rehabilitation and approached her to be a BDO ambassador last year.
“My role at SCIA is to show the community that you can go back to work,” James told B&T.
“Yes, your life after an spinal cord injury is vastly different, but you can still work, study, enjoy time with friends, have relationships.
“If I’m able to show that to a newly-injured individual or those in the community who haven’t spent time with someone in a wheelchair, that’s brilliant.
“Spinal cord injuries can happen to anyone – it doesn’t matter about your age, where you come from, your gender. It’s one of those unfortunate accidents that can happen within a split second and it does change your whole life, not only in terms of mobility.
“It’s also something which can happen to a friend, and when that does happen, being there to support that individual is also really important.”
James said the Big Day Off is also about making people aware that individuals with spinal injuries don’t necessarily change.
“People in wheelchairs are willing to get back to the community. They want to work, and people should be open to working with them,” she said.
Entries for the Big Day Off are now open! The competition closes at midnight on 30 June 2017. Days off are drawn electronically on 3 July 2017 and winners will be notified by email.
B&T‘s 30 Under 30 event is going to be at Ivy in Sydney on Thursday 27 April. Tickets to the event can be purchased here. We’ve even thrown in a daytime forum to compliment the awards, called Towards 2030.
And of course, we wouldn’t be able to put such a fabulous event on if it wasn’t for the support of our awesome sponsors and judges.