Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

International Day Of People With a Disability

15 Dec 2009I went out on the 3rd December to Picton Bowling club for the International Day Of People With a Disability. They have an annual breakfast on this day every year to celebrate what people with disabilities have achieved.

They have a different theme every year, one year was about the vision impaired so they got everyone to eat their breakfast with a blindfold on. This year's theme was about transport, I was asked to be a guest speaker and talk about my car, how it has been modified and what it means for me to be given a level of independence I never dreamt possible.

I created a slideshow that was displayed up behind me with pictures of my cars conversions and brief descriptions of how everything works.

I told them that I never imagined anyone in their right mind would give me a licence considering that I have brittle bones. Luckily though, I was blessed and have been driving for almost 9 years now, so I have lots of experience when it comes to how to get a licence, getting modifications done and what car is right for your needs.

So I spoke to over a hundred people about my personal experiences with driving, including a funny experience I had one day with my hoist..... I was on my way to the shops and it was a windy day, when it's windy or I have to travel on a motorway or somewhere where the speed limit is high, I secure my chair to the hoist with an Ocky strap, this day, I decided not to, big mistake. I was driving along when I heard a loud thud, I didn't know what it could've been and I continued driving. I got to the shops and tried to get my chair down off my roof and it wouldn't budge, it had flipped over to the other side of the roof and I had to stop a man who was walking past to ask him to flip my chair back the right way so I could get it down. So I warn anyone with a wheelchair hoist, if you are travelling at high speeds or on a windy day, tie down your chair!

I was invited to speak by Gay, who is a member of Wollondilly Council and the mother of a dear friend of mine, Rebecca. Gay has known me my entire life and had some questions of her own to ask me, including what was the biggest hurdle I have had to overcome relating to my disability. My answer was simply, transport. Without my car, I don't know what I would've done for a lot of things in my life. When I got my licence, I lived at Glossodia, which is a small town with only buses for public transport, they weren't wheelchair friendly so I wouldn't have been able to catch a bus anywhere. Taxis were just way too expensive and I couldn't rely on my mum to drive me everywhere as she worked full time.

If I was unable to get my licence, my life may have turned out completely different, socialising would've been harder, getting a job, going to TAFE and meeting new people. Unfortunately, so many people have this problem because they either can't afford to get a car modified or they are unable to drive due to their disability.

So next time you're driving your old car, complaining about what a lemon it is, think about how lucky you are to be able to have the freedom to drive because so many people don't even have that choice.

Me with Wollondilly Mayor Col Mitchell and Council member Craig

Doing my talk with my slideshow in the background

Wollondilly Council member Gay

Mayor Col Mitchell

Some of the crowd at the breakfast

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