The concept for Johnny H Adventures was inspired by John Hirst.
Born in 1942, John had Down Syndrome. He enjoyed meeting new people and visiting new places, and enthusiastically recounted his adventures to all he met.
John lived during an era when independent travel was not considered suitable for the disabled. In a nod to John’s love of adventure — and with the blessing of John’s mother — the Hirst family named this program after Johnny.
Bruce Hirst — Johnny H Adventures Owner and Tour Manager — shares his memories of Uncle Johnny and how they inspired the vision and values the Johnny H program.
“John was my uncle. My father was the eldest and John was born about four years later, in 1938, with Down Syndrome.
“At a time when most kids with Down Syndrome were institutionalised, my grandparents cared for Uncle Johnny at home his whole life. He lived until he was 43.
“Travel was not an opportune thing to do, but Johnny loved to come and visit us at Rooty Hill. Nanna and Pop would go on holidays up to Laurieton, which he loved as well.
“A day out with just so exciting to him.
“Whenever we saw him, he was always so excited to tell us where he had been and what he had done. Because Uncle John loved to see new places and tell everyone about it, we decided to name this business after him.
When we meet people for the first time and share John’s story, it helps them to understand what we’re all about. We know that people with Down Syndrome only need a minimal amount of support to live a fairly normalised life. Because they are usually positive in their attitude to people, they’re friendly and have a good sense of humour, they fit in well.
We also know that those with Down Syndrome need to be involved. Sitting by a pool for the day isn’t the kind of activity that you would choose. If you’re going to go to a pool, you would go to a water park where there are things to do the entire time.
We’re fortunate with the experience within the Johnny H team that we’re able to plan what is really interesting for the people on our tours. For example, when we were in England, we went to Harry Potter World which the whole group loved.
Everything we do through Johnny H is based on that understanding. We want to give people the same opportunities that mainstream travellers get. Johnny H tours are active, engaging and exciting. That’s what Johnny would’ve loved, and everyone who joins our tours gets the full experience, growth and adventure that comes with travel.”
To find out how you can get involved in a Johnny H Adventure, call 1300 053 001 or email [email protected]