Vanessa beams as she describes her experience with the PQSA Recreation Program. "Mick is great! He takes us to some interesting places. My favourite recent outing was SA Museum".
In addition to the appeal of visiting diverse destinations, the program offers social inclusion and confidence. "I make connections through the PQSA Recreation Program and develop new friendships."
Vanessa lives with Cerebral Palsy and survived a brain tumour at the age of 27. She has studied languages and mathematics but it's writing poetry that brings her the most joy.
"My writing is a catalyst and my way of dealing with things. I can't use my legs so I have to find another way."
She owns hundreds of notebooks filled with poetry, including this one:
Cerebral Palsy is damage to the brain,
It sometimes causes anguish and pain,
The effects are sometimes not easy to see,
And it is my most significant disability.
Sometimes I have depression too,
As my disability, like others, I live through.
But I am lucky in a way,
Because my cognitive abilities will always stay.
And through this contentment I will find,
Bringing joy from what we can share,
Realising the capacity each of us as individuals has to care.
It is more precious than overwhelming wealth,
The duration of life and the betterment of health.
For life is very much a mixture of happy and sad,
And for my memory I am very glad.
It is very acute and most strong,
As the effects of my disability mean
nothing is wrong. In my writing, I find much joy,
As my skills, even now, I can employ.
There is so much happiness in understanding,
As never before, And in the future there will be
So much more!
She lives independently with some assistance from a Support Worker when going out, which she does often! "I try to embrace what comes my way".
A regular commitment for Vanessa are weekly Scrabble games at the Community Centre. As a writer and scholar, she enjoys the game and is now a valued member of the group. PQSA Volunteers have visited Vanessa at home in past years, where they often played Scrabble so it is a great way to combine a favourite activity in a social environment.
PQSA Phone Support is a good anchor for Vanessa's weekly routine and something that she looks forward to. It is a relationship that has lasted almost three years with the same volunteer, who also lives with a disability. They discuss literature, advice on good health and can support each other emotionally. "It is a true friendship" Vanessa says with a grin.
It's clear that Vanessa values the services offered by PQSA and in turn contributes to the community as the first Australian person with a disability to become a Queen's Guide and volunteer teacher at the Julia Farr Centre. She is currently preparing to assist new migrants to Australia to speak and write English. She has also taught Auslan at the Royal Deaf Society. "It feels good to give back to the community."
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