Through a partnership with Access Inc and theatre-maker Romi Kupfer, Create to Advocate started as a pilot program in 2021, exploring creative approaches to disability advocacy. Access Inc works with people living with a disability to achieve their life goals. This blog piece was written by three participants of the program as a creative tool for advocacy. In their own words, they share their view on why they think there is strength in disability and their hopes for a community that also recognises that strength.
There are so many people in this world who have one or more altered-abilities/disabilities. Everyone has a dream, and a unique life and a unique way of achieving that dream. I have a dream to become an actress and to inspire people like many famous people who have achieved their own dreams despite their altered-abilities. Famous artists, models, actors, singers, chefs and sports people all struggle but have managed to show the world you can achieve your dreams, as long as you are passionate and want to keep practising until your dreams are reached.
Without strength, perseverance, practise and the support of Access Inc, I don’t think I could have ever reached my dream. I am so lucky, because I have supportive people in my life who never gave up on me (thank you). I am achieving beyond my dreams and anyone can do it even if you do have an altered-ability. You just have to believe in yourself and say “I have an altered-ability which means I have the ABILITY to reach my dreams, I just have to find a different way to achieve them.”
At the end of year 10 I left school. It was hard because there were very limited options for me so I went to Holmesglen TAFE to complete 3 foundation learning certificates. TAFE at age of 17 was hard because I was with so many different people and had so many different emotions. At the time, I found myself in trouble because I was not understanding structure and rules properly and picked up many behaviours that affected my ability to have positive relationships with others. But I did gain skills by completing outcomes, working on life skills and keeping a job at Target for a year and a half.
I feel Access has me given me a place where I can grow, learn new skills and improve my independence in so many areas. I have enjoyed doing Life Skills, Hospitality, Art, Music and Create to Advocate. I have learnt a lot about who I am, and about my disability and how to be with it. Access has given me the encouragement, guidance and also educated me to make good choices.
They have helped me to communicate, engage with others, work with others and succeed at my own level.
During kindergarten, my teacher said I couldn’t draw a straight line. She told that to my mum, who then told me to draw a ‘down bow.’ By drawing in the ‘down bow’ action, I drew a straight line. Changing the language to what makes sense to a person can make all the difference. It’s okay to be different. In school, not everyone got me or understood or accepted me. Since then, I’ve found my people who I am comfortable to be around and they accept me. You can be accepted by your peers even if you’re different.
A wish that I was granted from the Wish Foundation allowed me to do something creative for people with unique abilities, to show that we can do things even though it can be harder for us.
I did photography to help people with disabilities have a voice. I’ve participated in various drama groups and Suzuki music method groups over the years and sometimes hardships that I’ve gone through have been woven into performances that we’ve done. Because these were public performances, people had the chance to see and understand my situation better and maybe also their own situation.
Some of the support that I need is complex, but with the right support, we can all achieve, regardless of ability or disability. I’ve had to learn and get to know what works for me in different situations and I feel stronger from these experiences.
Written by Elisheva Jones-Resnik, Cheryl Plaut and Ally Factor
Access is working on further partnering with the community to grow the Create to Advocate program. For more information, contact Sharon Malecki at firstname.lastname@example.org