This week, we talk to Stacey Christie, who has muscular dystrophy, about what it’s like travelling the world in a wheelchair and writing her own blog about her adventures.
Tell us a little about you, your age, disability and current situation…
Hello, my name is Stacey, I’m 24 years old and live in Melbourne. I have bethlem myopathy (a type of muscular dystrophy), a condition which weakens my muscles. I work for a disability advocacy organisation in a digital communications role, which I really enjoy. I also love traveling and photography, so I’ve started a disability travel blog about my adventures.
Share with us all the amazing things you can do, especially those that people in your local community may not realise you can do?
I’d say my daily life is pretty similar to the lives of other people my age. I work full-time, live in my own apartment and really love spending time with my friends and family. I studied journalism and design at university, and lived in Los Angeles for a year while I studied abroad. Earlier this year I took some time off work to travel around Europe, which was so much fun! I’ve been involved in the disability community since I was a kid and I’ve had lots of opportunities to be on different committees, speak at events, travel and meet lots of amazing people.
What has been your biggest achievement to date? How did you achieve such big heights?
I always push myself to keep doing more, but when I look back at everything that I’ve achieved so far, I’m really proud. I’m thoroughly enjoying life, I’m very lucky!
What has been the hardest barrier for you to overcome?
In some ways, I find society’s perception of disability more disabling than my actual disability. Some people (but definitely not everyone) can be quite condescending because I use a wheelchair. They can’t seem to understand that I can still do everything that they can, the only difference is that I’m sitting down. Society has such low expectations of people with disability. I find that so odd, since I’ve met hundreds, probably thousands, of people with disability and they’re some of the most dedicated, funny and intelligent people that I’ve ever met.
What is one positive thing about the NDIS for you and how do you think the scheme will assist inclusion in your community?
I joined the NDIS last year and it’s been a really positive experience so far. I got a new electric wheelchair funded through the NDIS, which was quite life-changing, as my old electric wheelchair was eight years old and wasn’t keeping its battery charge.
I think one of the best things about the NDIS is that it gives people with disability choice and control over the supports that we receive. It’s interesting to see the changes happening within the disability sector, as service providers are now realising that we’re in a consumer market where people with disability have the power to choose where to spend their funds and which service providers to use. That’s a great thing!
Can you give us one idea that would help your community be more inclusive?
As I’ve mentioned, I think changing people’s perception of disability as a ‘bad thing’ would have the most impact on making the community more inclusive. Someone once told me that what the disability community needs is a really good publicity campaign, and I still think of that so often, because it’s really true!