People with disabilities are neither heroes nor victims, according to Albury wheelchair athlete Eliza Ault-Connell.
“We are agents of our own destiny and we’re just seeking an equal place in our communities,” she said.
Mrs Ault-Connell joined other speakers at QEII Square on Monday as Albury-Wodonga marked International Day of People with Disability.
“I’ve been fortunate enough that my disability has allowed me to travel the world, meet amazing people, compete for my country,” she said.
“I don’t like to think of myself so much as an amputee or say that I have had my legs amputated, I prefer to think of myself as someone who has two prosthetic legs.
“My disability hasn’t disabled me, it’s actually enabled me, it’s enabled me to have a fantastic life.”
The mother of three described how her children saw disability every day, as did others during the school run.
“Disability is normalised in our house,” she said.
“The children that see us and see us operating as a normal family just like their family are exposed to disability.
“They love to ask questions, and I think that’s a fantastic thing because how do we learn unless we ask?”
Hosted by the Albury City access committee and Wodonga community access advisory group, the celebrations included a barbecue, live music and stalls from disability service providers.
Alannah McKeown, named joint Wodonga Young Citizen of the Year in 2017, spoke of representing Australia in swimming, enjoying dancing and the gym and her pride in her job.
“I love having a go at things,” she said.
“You can see that even though having Down Syndrome has made things harder for me, with a lot of help and support I have done a lot, I have a great life.”
Wodonga resident Kylie Paull shared the microphone with Limbs 4 Life chief executive Melissa Noonan.
“I may have lost a leg but I did not lose my courage and I gained a lot of support from family, friends, from organisations like Limbs 4 Life and the community of Albury-Wodonga and it means so much, I’ve learned I can do so much more now in life,” Mrs Paull said.
Mrs Ault-Connell said everyone had a role to play in inclusion.
“I love nothing more than when I see a new building built and it’s beautiful and it’s stylish and it’s accessible, the days where ramps being an afterthought are slowly disappearing,” she said.
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