Become a Leader

Written"NewPositiveStronger

clare accepting her certificate from the two facilitators Clare Walsh was selected to take part in our Young Leaders 2016 program. Running between March and May this year, the course was the final face-to-face installment in our Become a Leader program and focused on energizing people with disability aged 16 – 25 into bright young leaders.

Clare is a 21 year old from Nowra who came to the program frustrated by people’s lack of understanding around her disability. Program facilitator Carolyn Campbell – McLean said she saw Clare grow in confidence, especially around working with others and sharing her story to achieve social change.

Clare kept a diary of her time in the Young Leaders 2016 program. Below are her musings and reflections.

DAY 1

When I walked into the conference room for Young Leaders I was apprehensive and uncertain. I did not know what to expect. As I looked around, I could see that I wasn’t the only one with the familiar butterflies in my stomach. Day 1 was all about meeting other young leaders and the affirmation that “I am a leader”. We looked at what qualities we possess and what qualities we need to acquire in order to become leaders. On the first day I met others with similar disabilities to me and we really related to each other. I learned that anyone can be a leader, you just need to be determined and not let anyone stand in the way of what you want to accomplish.

DAY 2clare sitting with a mentor and family member behind her

Living with a disability, or what I like to call limitations, can be difficult, frustrating and aggravating. Doing this young leaders program has taught me to be more assertive and understanding. I am developing the confidence and belief that I can make a difference, even if in the tiniest way possible. Leadership to me means that if we want to make a difference, we have to be determined, patient and as we gain more experience in these qualities we will be able to see more impact in what we do. We should stay connected with the community as having the ability to connect with others will enable us to initiate change. Participating in this program has helped me to know that it is okay to stand up for what I believe in. It has helped me gain some of the confidence that I lacked.

Day 4

When I entered the conference room on the fourth day I was extremely nervous as this was the day we all had to get up in front of the group and present our social change pitch. Everyone’s pitch was vastly different. Ideas ranging from accessibility on trains and bathrooms, making a friendship group for those who struggle to communicate, and workability specifically for people with disability. It was amazing to see how much work and effort people put into these projects and how much confidence they have gained since the start of the program. By the end of the day, we managed to combine ideas and put ourselves into groups. Reflecting on the fourth day, leadership to me means that sometimes we have to compromise and we can’t always do what we want to do.

Day 5

a group picture of all the young leadersWhen we entered the conference room on the fifth day, we had to put our heads down and get to work. I was in the accessibility group and because accessibility is a general topic we had to narrow it down. At the table where my group were sitting everyone was very quiet and didn’t really know where to start so I, being the leader that I am, spoke up and nudged everyone into some sort of direction. We decided to focus on accessible bathrooms and how they can be improved to benefit those who need them. This week leadership to me means that sometimes I have to take control.

Day 6

As I entered the conference room for the last time, I was more moved than I thought I’d be. All the participants had these wonderful smiles. Some were also nervous as we had to present our social change pitch to participants, mentors and family and friends today. Listening to the other groups social change pitch was entertaining and enlightening. Even going after Jack who rapped (!!) we were able to explain our ideas aided by our brochure kindly handed out by Stephanie W. What I had thought at the end of day two became really clear to me by the end of day six...that we ought stay connected with the community and having the ability to connect with others will enable us to initiate change.