After tying the laces of her bold well-used canary yellow roller skates, Lilli began swirling with effortless motion around the carpark of headspace Bega.
She was beaming in anticipation, proudly adorned with a rainbow banner like a cape.
She is known in Bega as the "Roller Skater Girl", but Lilli Simpson at 18 is more than that, she's a budding graphic designer and the project leader behind the Rainbow Roller Disco - an event aimed at being a supportive, safe space for those in the LGBTQI+ community on November 25 at Candelo Hall.
Skating around the skatepark since 2019, even competing in the Pambula Skatefest in 2021 among an array of skateboarders, Lilli said she was introduced to the sport through her mother, a competitor in Roller Derbies.
"I wasn't really sporty, so roller skating was exercise and fun," she said, even keeping her skates in the boot of her car if an opportunity to skate ever arose.
Lilli heard that Chuffed Skates, an independent roller skate company, owned and operated by roller skaters, had approached headspace Bega because they wanted to bring the sport and lifestyle to regional communities.
Her hand went up immediately in hopes to be involved.
She has since designed and created the vintage-inspired posters through the guidance of the Rainbow Collective, who voted on sketch ideas and aesthetic colour choices, and become the project leader for the inclusive event built on providing a safe space for all ages.
"I'm very excited about this event because it's something that I'm very invested in, not only the rainbow part but also the skating part, and to put those two communities together is just so exciting," Lilli said.
"[Rainbow] not only because it's colourful, but because it is a LGBTQI+ community event as is Rainbow Wave, based on giving us a space to be [ourselves], [alongside] all our friends and family."
Community engagement officer for headspace Bega, Carly McDonald said putting on an event as big as the youth-led rural pride Rainbow Wave Festival yearly was difficult, but an event like Rainbow Roller Disco was just as meaningful to the Bega district community.
"It's kind of about making the community visible, you know, I was someone who grew up here, I didn't identify when I grew up here. I kind of went away, got a bit more comfortable in my identity, but I never realised the community here was so big," Carly said.
"And we have a big, beautiful, diverse community in the Bega Valley, and I think events like Rainbow Wave and hopefully this one shows people, 'Oh yeah, there is a big community here, and there's lots of allies as well, lots of friends and family that are really supportive.'"
"This'll be my first time [skating] at the event, giving it a go, so it'll be interesting," she said.
"If people get their tickets, they get free skate hire, dinner from Cows Nest, and DJs, music, and tickets are $10 to $15. A bargain," Carly said with a smile, thanking Bendigo Bank for their support with funding.
"We've kept the ticket prices quite low, but if there is anyone where finance is a real issue, reach out to headspace Bega, and we'll sort it out, we don't want it to stop anyone."
For more information and tickets, click here
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