Home' Aurora : Aurora December 2013 Contents St Peter's Campus Maitland student and
our cover girl, Karley Moran, 16, joined
more than a thousand dancers, singers,
acrobats and artists performing at the
Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games
2013 Opening Ceremony celebration,
hosted at Newcastle's Hunter Stadium on
1 December. Karley performed alongside
some of Australia's finest entertainers,
including Human Nature and Marcia Hines,
as well as 2,500 athletes, their coaches
and carers from 30 nations. For some,
the prospect of dancing in front of an
international audience might be daunting,
but Karley couldn't have been more
excited, having practised every day for
weeks. "My family has really been cheering
me on, they encourage me to dance all the
time," says Karley.
This opportunity has prepared Karley for
working towards her goal of swimming at
the National Games in Melbourne, October
2014, and then the world Summer Games
in Los Angeles in July 2015, all leading to
the next Special Olympics in 2017 when
she hopes to compete in swimming as part
of the Australian team. She was not old
enough to compete this year but already
has a gold, silver and bronze medal to her
name after competing at the 2012 Special
Olympics Australia Junior National Games.
Karley's mother, Kim, is extremely proud of
her daughter's achievements and credits
the support Karley has at home and at
school. "It isn't just me, it's her teachers and
everyone involved in her life, her brothers,
sister and Dad. She's worked really hard
to get where she is," says Kim. Whilst
encouragement and support are always at
hand, Kim mentions that Karley has a very
strong sense of self and she enjoys seeing
Karley build confidence on her own, with
swimming and dancing playing a huge
part in shaping her self-awareness and
improving her ability.
Karley was not alone in the excitement she
felt, dancing at the Opening Ceremony.
CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-
Manning (Gold Sponsor of the Games)
was delighted to have three disability
service users join her in performing at the
Opening Ceremony. Brian 67, Malcolm,
44 and Ben, 29, were equally confident
their routine would go off without a glitch.
"I've been practising every night, I just love
it!" Malcolm said. Malcolm and Brian are
residents at one of CatholicCare's Hunter
Group Homes and were absolutely thrilled
to have their carers' encouragement and
support in the lead-up to the event. Louise
Rak, CatholicCare's Operations Manager,
Community Support, said, "Supporting
the Games was an opportunity for us to
promote the importance of independence
and equality for people with disability
and the contribution they make in our
The Games also coincide with International
Day of People with Disability (3 December),
presenting a combined opportunity to
acknowledge people in the community with
disability and to reflect on a change in social
attitudes towards creating a more inclusive
way of living.
To learn about new disability housing,
turn to page 8. If you would like further
information on how CatholicCare's
disability services can assist you or your
loved one, visit www.catholiccare.org.au
or P 4944 4400.
BY GERALDINE WILLIAMS
Dancing with the stars
at Special Olympics
Disability service users (l-r) Ben, Brian and Malcolm performed for the Special Olympics
Opening Ceremony. Photo courtesy of Emma Blackford.
Imagine if we didn't need an international
day for people with disability on 3 December
because people with disability were taking
their rightful places as active citizens and
contributing members of society?
Imagine if every person acted out the call
of this year's theme of the International Day
for People with Disability and worked to
"break down barriers".
Imagine if we understood some of the
greatest barriers facing people with
disability are social and can therefore be
broken down attitude by attitude, person
Imagine if we removed the word "disability"
from our vocabulary because "person" is
the only descriptor that matters.
Imagine if every business, amenity and
community facility was designed to
accommodate people using wheelchairs.
Imagine if every restaurant had a Braille
menu and catered for people who need
soft food which is easy to swallow.
Imagine if people didn't tell me how clever
I was for doing the everyday things like
working and talking and knowing the date
and using a phone just because I'm blind.
Imagine if people with disability didn't have
to sign forms and jump through hoops
and share intrusive, personal details with
strangers in order to access the equipment,
technology and assistance they require.
Imagine if you acquired a disability
Imagine if you were me.
Imagine if I were you.
Imagine if one in five people were not seen
as "other" and "different" and "special" but
were given what they needed to live life as
Imagine if I didn't have to make you feel
Imagine if, when you meet a person with
a disability and are unsure what to do or
what is expected of you, you focused on
what you have in common as people and
not on the person's disability.
Imagine if I felt comfortable to fail rather
than feeling the constant need to prove my
equality and capacity and right to do the
everyday things that others take for granted.
Imagine if I didn't have to have a strategy
around telling my prospective employer
that I have a disability.
Imagine if every person could get up when
they wanted to, have a shower when they
wanted to, get to work when they needed
to, access transport as readily as their non-
Imagine if we had all read the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disability and it was the
basis for all decisions and actions affecting
people with disability.
Imagine if you were a person with a disability
who couldn't speak and you lashed out at
me by punching and biting and I considered
your actions as a call for help and worked
with you to find out the cause of your
distress and frustration. What could happen
if I perceive your negative actions as more
than "behaviours", requiring restraints and
Imagine if I had nothing left to ask of my
community in terms of accommodating
my disability and could get on with the
important things in life.
Catherine Mahony represents
Community Disability Alliance Hunter,
a user-led organisation run by and for
people with disability.
BY CATHERINE MAHONY
www.mn.catholic.org.au Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
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