Belonging & Connecting
The ‘Belonging and Connecting’ multi-media project has been created by the G21 Disability Inclusion Partnership. The Partnership has been supported by G21 Health and Wellbeing Pillar project staff and chaired by Rosemary Malone, CEO Gateways.
The project has been developed to promote the stories of nine young people with disabilities, from diverse backgrounds, who have successfully participated in community life as a result of innovative practices and projects in the G21 region. Digital video has been chosen as the communication tool complimented by A3 posters to highlight key elements of each story.
Bree is a talented musician who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) when she was 19. Bree started suffering symptoms of MS just after finishing VCE. She chose to hide her condition from friends and fellow students for a long time allowing her to live in a world of denial about her condition.
Several years ago, the muscles in Bree’s legs began deteriorating which forced her to adapt and embrace a completely new style of living. Bree was determined to face her disease head on and she gained a new lease on life.
Bree is currently studying the causes of MS and the possibilities of reversing the damage of her illness. She is determined not to let anything stand in her way. Bree reflects that she has achieved more with this illness than when she was well abled.
Bree is also studying naturopathy and alternative health. She has written a novel which is currently in its third draft. Bree has also released a double CD of her music and organised and performed at multiple festivals and fundraisers. She enjoys painting and being creative, and is now blessed with a loving fiancé and a newborn son Jayden!
Even though Bree has physical limitations and is unable to do basic things like walk in a straight line, she loves her life!
“My achievements and accomplishments don't stem from a 'disabled' person… just someone who has to rearrange a few things! My disability will never affect my spirit!”
Ti Mo's Story
Ti Mo arrived in Australia in 2010 under a Humanitarian Visa with her parents and siblings from a refugee camp on the Thai/Burma boarder where she was born. Ti Mo is profoundly deaf and her first language is Kareni. While living in the refugee camp, her family and friends developed their own version of sign language which enabled communication with her.
Since coming to Australia, Ti Mo has worked incredibly hard at simultaneously learning English as well as learning Auslan (Australian sign language). Despite her disability, Ti Mo’s ambition and determination to be included in the community has been inspirational for many. She is a valued student at North Geelong Secondary College and enthusiastically participating in cultural activities and church events in Geelong and Werribee. She challenges herself to learn new life skills and create her own independence and plans to pursue a career teaching Auslan. Ti Mo is now able to travel from Geelong to Melbourne independently on public transport to the School of the Deaf each week.
Ti Mo is a strong and inspirational young woman, who is a wonderful role model for many in the new arrival communities as well as for people with disabilities. Her positive and optimistic attitude, coupled with her determination and persistence to overcome cultural and communication barriers is an inspiration to many.
Meg is a 27 year old talented artist who is living with Asperger’s Syndrome (a mild form of autism). Apart from Meg’s creative interest, she is also involved with Guide Dogs Victoria and is currently training a very clever and cute black Labrador puppy names Lotty. Meg has recently purchased a house in Grovedale and plans to set up her own studio, where she will be able to focus on her art.
Meg also has a younger brother with sever autism. She is a wonderful advocate for young people with disabilities and has chaired the ‘Having A Say Conference’ run by VALID which is the largest national conference for people with a disability. Meg has been involved in the Barwon Youth Ambassadors Project which supports young people with a disability to deliver their life experiences, stories and key messages to local community promoting social inclusion and economic participation for all young people regardless of their ability.
Mat is a passionate and energetic 22 year-old young man living with multiple disabilities including Hydrocephalus, a hearing impairment and a mild intellectual disability. Mat has many passions including advocating for social change around employment opportunities for young people with disabilities. Mat is currently studying a Certificate III in Childcare at the Gordon TAFE, and plays cricket for the Torquay Cricket Club. He loves hanging out with his friends and watching footy and cricket.
Mat has recently been involved in the Barwon Youth Ambassadors Project which supports young people with a disability to deliver their life experiences, stories and key messages to local communities, promoting social inclusion and economic participation for all young people regardless of their ability.
Thomas is a passionate young writer who loves to challenge people with his work. He is 22 years of age and has cerebral palsy which affects his speech and movement. Thomas grew up on a country farm in regional Victoria, but now lives in Geelong independently. Thomas is an arts worker, who has worked with arts organisations throughout Australia. He also leads community-based training and presentations in his spare time. Thomas has a great sense of who he is; he stands tall, and is proud to call himself ‘a gay guy with a disability’.
Through Thomas’ theatre performances he aims to educate, empower, challenge and provoke audiences to think differently about people with disabilities and promote diversity in all different environments. Thomas was awarded the 2010 Golden Plains Shire Young Citizen of the Year.
If you would like to contact Thomas about his training sessions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0407 869 519.
Sharyn and Leeanne's Story
Sharyn and Leeanne are 20 year old identical twins. Sharyn and Leeanne have mild intellectual disabilities and although they look identical, they have very different interests and aspirations in life.
Sharyn is passionate about working with children and currently volunteers at Tate Street Primary School in East Geelong. She also spends a lot of time taking part in activities through Karingal. Sharyn has recently been involved in the Barwon Youth Ambassadors Project which supports young people with a disability to deliver their life experiences, stories and key messages to local community promoting social inclusion and economic participation for all young people regardless of their ability.
Leeanne loves working with food and is currently undertaking Certificate II in Hospitality at the Gordon TAFE. As part of this course Leeanne is currently working at DAL Gourmet Café and Catering, as well as successfully securing employment at Muffin Break in Corio through a supported employment program.
Shantel is a fun, outgoing 25 year old that enjoys life to the fullest. She lives independently with her fiancé in Colac. Shantel has spina bifida and as a result uses a wheelchair to get herself around.
Shantel’s passion in life is to work and care for children as a professional childcare worker. She has completed Certificate III of Children’s Services and is now a wonderful asset for Apex Kinder and Bluewater Fitness Centre in the crèche where she volunteers during the week. Shantel also has paid employment at the 3CS Radio Station in Colac where she is the receptionist.
Shantel has never let her disability dictate who she is as a person and enjoys giving things a go.
Joel is a 21 year old young man currently living in Bannockburn (Golden Plains Shire). Joel has cerebral palsy and although he has high support needs, he enjoys any activity where he can be part of the community and connect with others – especially activities that involve hanging out with ‘the boys’ and making new friends. Joel currently attends the Gordon TAFE East Campus for a computer course, and enjoys spending time at The Grinter Garden – Whittington Community Garden.
- Barwon Youth
- Scope Victoria
- Gateways Support Services