Esperance youth prove disability no barrier to independence

Independent women: Three Esperance women (clockwise from left) Kayelene Watts and twin sisters Carissa and Carla Bale are proving that a disability doesn't mean you have to lose your independence.
Independent women: Three Esperance women (clockwise from left) Kayelene Watts and twin sisters Carissa and Carla Bale are proving that a disability doesn't mean you have to lose your independence.

THREE young Esperance women are proving that having a disability does not mean their independence has to be restricted.

Kayelene Watts and twin sisters Carla and Carissa Bale each live with an intellectual disability but they don't let it impact negatively on their lives. In fact the women, who are all 25, work, live on their own and achieve.

This week is Disability Awareness Week, which is held between December 1-7 in Western Australia. Today also marks the United Nations' International Day of People with Disability which has the theme of 'The Promise of Technology'.

The three women are participants of the Disability Services Commission's My Way program that supports people with disabilities through My Way co-ordinators. Kayelene is supported by Shaun Beros and Carla and Carissa are supported by Betty Shirras who have helped the women get into their new homes in September.

The women are good friends and now, neighbours and love being independent.

Kayelene volunteers at a creche at an Esperance fitness centre and with her mother at a Sunday School and has even competed in this year's National Special Olympics in October having won gold in the 100m relay, bronze in the 200m event and two fourth places for long jump and shot put.

She said she loved being in her own home and learning new things all the time.

Carla and Carissa said moving into their own place was a long-time in the making and involved a lot of planning but it was all worth it.

"I love cooking and having my own bathroom," Carla said.

"I love baking, especially chocolate cakes."

Carla and Carissa started voluntary work at Esperance Senior High School, helping in the canteen and helping in the staffroom doing domestic duties at the residential college.

Carla worked at the Bay of Isles Furniture Store for some time and now works two days a week with Forrest Personnel while Carissa works three days a week at the Traveller's Inn and took part in work skills development one morning a week at Esperance Flight Centre.

The trio are all living proof that having a disability doesn't mean they have to restrict themselves.

My Way co-ordinator Betty Shiraz said she had enjoyed working with the young women to develop their individual plans and supporting them to achieve their goals.

"Through My Way, people like these young women can have much more control and choice about the services and supports they receive and we can respond quickly at a local level to meet their needs," she said.

"It is wonderful to see them now living independently and enjoying their choice of work, community and social activities in their home town of Esperance.

"This is a perfect time to reflect on the importance of ensuring people with disability have access to a good life and how we can all benefit from a more welcoming and inclusive community."

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