The Good Life: Ricky
Growing up, people had low expectations of me. For instance, they didn’t think I could do my HSC. But I did. I’m most proud of doing all the things that people didn’t think I could do.
I felt like my real life started after I finished school. I had a few jobs, and I did some courses. Then, one day, I applied for a job at The Council for Intellectual Disability, and I got it. In the beginning, I was involved in developing workshops. Today, I’m actually leading workshops. I feel like I found my calling.
I love being part of a team too. Whenever there’s a big workshop, someone will say “You’ve got this, you can do it”. My job gives me so much confidence. I’m treated fairly and equally, just like everyone else. I don’t need a support worker, because I get the right supports at work. So I’m able to be an independent worker.
Being independent is really important to me. When I realised people thought I couldn’t do certain things, I decided to work out what made me happy and what I wanted to do, instead of trying to please others. Now, if I want to go and do something, I’m pretty determined.
I’d tell parents raising children with disability that it’s important to support your child to start making decisions, even when they are young. Give them a bit more freedom in terms of the choices they make. Ask them directly what they want and take in what they have to say. It might sound silly at first, but when you actually hear their genuine feelings about things, then you can help them to build a good life with all the things that are important to them.
My advice to young people is that there will be some tough times in your life. Focus on finding something that you are really good at, and you love, and then pursue it 100%. Even if people are saying you shouldn’t do it, if you’ve got a passion, you’ve got to just keep going. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do something.
I want people to know that someone with disability is not that different to you. We want to have a well-rounded life. We want friends, we want to be with our families and be in a relationship with someone we love. The things that everyone else wants and is entitled to.