If you speak up and you dare to dream, your voice and goals can be heard.

Written by PDA’s NSW Director, Mark Pietsch

Hey everyone! 👋, 

As someone who has lived experience with a physical disability, I know the day to day struggle of trying to deal with barriers to being heard and working towards goals. I know that many of you may be facing similar challenges, so I want to offer a few words of encouragement and support, as well as some tips for navigating the journey towards empowerment.

Navigating life through my 20’s and now 30’s with a physical disability was tough, there’s no denying it. I remember feeling like I was often on the defence and facing a lot of physical and emotional barriers.

Often things were overlooked by my able-bodied peers. Some of the things others can do, for me are impossible, or took a ridiculous amount of effort. To compensate, I kept working harder, kept trying to prove myself and often tried to hide my disabilities, the pain and feeling like a fish trying to climb a tree.

But as I got older, I realised that having a disability didn’t have to hold me back. In fact, it opened a world of opportunities for me to advocate for myself and to help others in similar situations. Embracing myself, including my disability, has helped me develop strategies, plans and aspirations that stretch me in directions that I never saw myself heading. As a young person I never once thought I’d be an advocate, a Specialist Support Coordinator or the owner of an organisation full of amazing people, assisting even more amazing people. If you speak up, and you dare to dream, your voice and goals can be heard.

One of the biggest steps I took towards empowerment was accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The NDIS provides support to individuals with disabilities, which can help you access the equipment, therapy and other supports that you need to live your best life. For me, the NDIS was a game-changer and I know it can be for you too!

Of course, even with the support of the NDIS, life with a disability can still be challenging. I still encounter barriers every day, like inaccessible buildings, public transportation and a lack of employment opportunities. But instead of letting these obstacles hold me back, I’ve learned to find creative solutions and to advocate for myself. 

With the right people in my corner, the right funding and a different mindset, my life has changed dramatically!

Here are a few tips that have helped me along the way:

  1. Embrace your unique abilities and strengths. Every person with a disability has unique skills and talents, so focus on what you’re good at and don’t let your disability define you.
  • Be an advocate for yourself. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you need. You deserve to live your best life and there are people and organisations out there who want to help you do that.
  • Connect with others. Surrounding yourself with supportive friends, family, and peers can make all the difference. Joining a local disability community or online group (like the PDA Social Hour) can also be a great way to connect with others who understand what you’re going through.
  • Keep pushing for change. There’s still a lot of work to be done to make our communities more inclusive and accessible, so don’t be afraid to use your voice to help make that change happen.

I hope that these tips help you on your journey towards empowerment.

Remember, you are not alone and there is a whole community of people out there who are here to support you.

With hard work, determination, and a little bit of creativity, you can achieve your dreams and live your best life.

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