There are not many social opportunities for people who have a vision impairment or are blind. So I decided to start a club. I wanted blind and vision-impaired people to regularly meet. I advertised the club in the local paper and radio, and on the internet. The group was called the Blind Coffee Club. But we later changed our name to Zora's explorers, after my seeing-eye dog. We do things such as ten-pin bowling, eating out and of course, meeting up for coffee. Friends of people who are blind or have low-vision are welcome to join our friendly club.
Children can be curious about disabilities. They may not have seen a person with a disability before. Sometimes their views are shaped by their parents' prejudices. We can help them to understand and accept people with disabilities. We can do this by explaining things in simple ways and by being friendly. I tell children my name. I ask for their name. I tell them about my disability. I used to be uncomfortable being around children. But then I tried talking to them. I talked to a young girl on a tram. It made me happy. I now feel comfortable around children.
It can be challenging having an Italian Australian identity. I lived in two worlds growing up in a non-English speaking home. My parents came to Australia from Italy. When I was born they could not speak English. They did not understand the doctors. They did not know I was totally blind. I experienced a lot of racism at school. I was teased by some children. I wanted to be Australian and not Italian. This upset my parents very much. As I grew older I started to think differently. Today I am proud of my Italian identity.
People with physical disabilities can have fulfilling and long relationships. They can have relationships with people who do not have a disability. Sometimes it is hard for the person without a disability to accept there is a need for a carer. But carers can help the relationship. The carer must respect the couple's relationship. But it is also important for the couple to respect the carer. It helps when the carer and the couple talk to each other. They can talk about any problems they have. The person with a disability can also talk to their support agency.
I lost my sight at the age of six. At school I was shy. It was hard to make friends. But my parents always encouraged me. I did activities like swimming, bushwalking and camping. I once got lost in the bush. It was night time and I could not find my tent. I was found the next morning. At university I started to feel less shy. I made friends. After university I was given an eye dog named Zora. I decided to move out of home. Life has sometimes been tough. But I have learned to be confident.
I send Christmas cards to family and friends every year. It takes time and effort to prepare the cards. I have a vision impairment. I need to make sure I put the stamps on the right corner of the envelope. I do this by contrasting the white envelope against a dark tablecloth. I use printed card labels to help me. My cards are also prepared in advance. I select cards from printing websites that let you create personalised cards. Preparing cards is hard work. It takes me three days to finish. But I am proud of my accomplishments.
I am autistic. I have also been admitted to hospital with schizophrenia. I had a difficult childhood. There was violence. I have also been rejected often. The therapist Mia was quietly spoken. But she had a strong presence. I had only been to three sessions with her. She wanted me to commit to regular therapy. She was very convincing. I decided to take a risk. I think I can do it.
I am fiercely independent. I like to have control of some things in my life for as long as I can. It is easy to get used to being dependent on others when you have a chronic illness or disability. One of the things I want to keep doing is lifting my frame in and out of the car. But when I go out with men it causes a problem. They are not sure whether to help. I wonder whether I should let them help. It would show I trust them. But where would it lead to next?
My friends are always there for me. They have been a great support when I have been unwell. They visited me in hospital and brought me presents. They really helped my recovery. My friends have also been very supportive of my writing. They have also given me other great opportunities. They have even taught me life lessons. They do it out of concern and love. My friends make me feel special.
Visitors can build something, help someone, or just play pool.
The Wangaratta Men's Shed has many activities for men. Shed members are aware that many local men have depression. The shed is a place where men can talk and keep busy. Teenagers also go there. Some are working on bicycles. The shed only started recently. Work on the shed has not finished. Members can build something, help someone, or just play a game. Funds for the shed come from many sources. Men with disabilities are welcome.