TORCHEE – GO GO GO!

<!–[if !mso]> <! st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } –>

The other big compelling reason to ‘run with the Torch’ was because of a need to celebrate the odyssey we have made in the Canberra disability community, which I have been a little part of since coming to Canberra in the mid 90’s, and to which lots and lots of people have contributed.

It’s been a heck of a journey through DARE, TAS, DPI, AAPAC, PWD and three – yes three – Disability Advisory Councils.  That’s a lot of meetings, agenda’s, letters, Minutes, reports and points of order.

I’ve met some wonderful, funny, awe-inspiring people along the way.

People like Dan Stubbs, who was a great mentor to many of us.  Dennis Stabback who has slowly changed the world by tapping out words on a keyboard, Robert Altamore (who in a fantastic coincidence we met up with playing blind cricket in the park next to the Relay – 6 degrees of separation?, more like 2) who laid the grounds for a better DAC and many great people I have worked with other the years like Sue Salthouse, Marg Spalding, Maree Nesbitt, Kate Wells, Megan Kelly and Sarah Buchanan, who later joined me in the weird world of the APS.

Senior people like Andrew Whale, Lois Ford, Martin Hehir and Sandra Lambert who showed what top level commitment to change can do.

But it’s the projects that were really my favourite thing.

All those meetings, sponsorship deals, crazy little budgets, weird ideas, deadlines and the buzz when they somehow came off. Or those that didn’t quite come off but who cares – we learn heaps from our failures too.

We did Open Gardens at Govt House, built houses through Housing for Life, took over Civic for the 2000 Paralympic Sendoff, published The ACT Guidelines for Access and Mobility, dared to dream of the ‘Access City’ and hotlines and design services, built the Active Community Project, published the Leap Out Writers Anthology, staged The Inclusion Awards.  But wait theres more – The Disability Reporter, the workshops on writing, making friends, relationships and sexuality, Canberra Disability Arts Festival, the Access to ACT Government Strategy, our first Community Attitudes Research on disability, turning ACT celebrations for International Day of Disability from a sausage sizzle into a big buzzy dramatic Day with festivals, launches, sponsors and showbags and lastly the Challenge 2014 Citizens Jury.

None of it ever seemed to involve earning money but somehow this made it more fun.  Oh what amazing projects they were involving so many ACT public servants, consultants and people of goodwill. All our meetings in coffee shops and squeezing bits of time out of nothing to meet and plot and make it happen.

I didn’t thank you enough but thank you all.

Celebrating also helps you let go.  I’m still involved in disability & other issues – but in different ways.

So heres the Torch – I’m passing it on to YOU, dear Canberra people with disabilities.   Especially young people.

The local stuff is so important and the ACT has such potential to lead on this.

So please step up to do more wonderful projects and keep trying!:

Its fun, you’ll meet wonderful people and learn things…oh and change the world.

Now take that torch and Go, Go, Go!