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Closing pleasure gap for people with disabilities a passion project for iActivate student

Published:14 December 2021

iActivate student Anna Walsh sits on couch

iActivate student Anna Walsh is building social enterprise Pleasure Able.

A plan to design and manufacture accessible sex toys for people with disabilities is emerging in Townsville, with local pleasure advocate Anna Walsh determined to transform lives with the inclusive project.

The founder and owner of happymash vibrator and sexual wellness business says there’s growing demand in the disability community for support for self-pleasure.

And she’s designing the new social enterprise, Pleasure Able, with support from iActivate, CQUniversity’s online social enterprise course.

“Sexual pleasure is a human right, and the NDIS in Australia, the NHS in the UK, and health providers in America are all looking for ways to address those needs – but there is a shortage of services,” Anna said.

“My business partner is an occupational therapist, and she’s been asked to design splints and things that can hold vibrators, but they’re not fit for purpose.

“I’ve been in this industry for nearly two years, and it’s been a real revelation to understand there’s no downsides to having more orgasms, and physical health and mental health benefits – so I am passionate about closing the pleasure gap and making sure more people are included.”

Anna is one of eight North Queensland business owners taking on the 12-week iActivate course with face-to-face support, thanks to a partnership between CQUniversity and Smart Precinct NQ.

It’s the second Townsville cohort to participate in the accelerator program, with local innovators developing social enterprise plans for everything from agricultural plastic recycling to a teen resilience initiative, and an employment program for people with disabilities.

Anna, who is a busy mum and a former police officer, already has a track record for innovation, building a passionate community around happymash, and hosting A Woman Charged podcast to promote the health benefits of sex and pleasure.

She said sharing her plans with iActivate students and facilitators had helped shape her 'rough ideas'.

“It’s helped me formulate a business plan, and think about pitching for investment, at the next stage after the research is analysed,” she said.

Anna is determined the social enterprise will be consumer-led, with products designed and manufactured in Australia, and she is engaging with the disability community to develop products, and decide community benefits. To participate in the collaboration, email hello@pleasureable.co.

Anna intends Pleasure Able profits would be donated to other not-for-profits in the disability support sector.

“The social enterprise aspect is really important, Pleasure Able can make money but also be innovative and benefit the community as well,” she said.

Anna’s Townsville cohort meets weekly with local and online facilitators, and she said the chance to connect was a great motivator.

With video, audio and written content, iActivate’s 12 modules are curated to give students clear and actionable steps in defining goals and impacts, understanding business for good ecosystems, applying sustainable and innovative business models, and prototyping, pitching, scaling and measuring impacts.

CQUniversity is Australia’s only Changemaker University, accredited by global network for social innovation in education Ashoka U.

For more information visit cqu.edu.au/iactivate, and enrol to start iActivate now.