Lily raises her voice
Softly spoken 19-year-old Lily has been on quite the journey ever since she decided to enter the ABC’s Heywire competition to tell her story.
From Nowra NSW, Lily entered the competition for regional young Australians following encouragement from one of her teachers at St John the Evangelist Catholic High School.
That proved to be good advice as Lily was named as one of the 2021 competition winners, and had her written and spoken story published on the ABC’s website.
“Winning Heywire has meant that even though I have a disability, I can still make a difference,” Lily says.
“It felt pretty cool that my story would be heard by people from all over Australia.”
Titled ‘The wheelchair isn’t who I am, but it’s definitely shaped who I am,’ Lily’s winning Heywire entry details her challenges with Friedreich’s ataxia, a genetic disorder that affects the nerves and muscles in her body.
It also details her journey with becoming less mobile and her transition to using a wheelchair.
Since winning Heywire, Lily has become a lot more involved in her community.
“Heywire inspired me to be more of an advocate in my local area and so I’ve been involved in community events to support people with disability in their everyday lives,” Lily says.
One way people can get involved and support inclusion for people with disability in their community is through International Day of People with Disability, which occurs on 3 December every year.
“International Day of People with Disability is important to me because it recognises people with disability as human beings and shows their importance in society,” Lily says.
“Inclusion to me is the acceptance and celebration of the wonderful, diverse backgrounds of people in our society and in our daily lives,” Lily says.
“The contributions and achievements of people with disability is something to celebrate as they have had an impact on the inclusive society we live in today.
“It’s an important day holding an important message that I will be sharing with the people I know.”
Apart from her advocacy work in her community, Lily is currently studying a Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Wollongong.
“I hope that in the future I will have a career where I can support the lives of people with disability to accomplish their goals,” Lily says.
She also has some sound advice for other young regional and rural Australians thinking of entering the Heywire competition.
“Go for it and know that your voice does matter.”
Heywire is an annual storytelling competition run by the ABC in partnership with the Australian Government. The competition encourages young people aged 16-22 living in regional or rural Australia to share their story and experiences. To learn more, visit www.abc.net.au/heywire