Very excited to open the local paper to see my photograph of a calf I took in my area make the front cover..
Not bad for holding my camera out the car window with my foot whilst Trevor drove the car..

 

 

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During August I went for a little drive about 3500 km to Ingham in North Queensland to be guest speaker at Ingham High School’s awards night.

On the way I stopped at Magnetic Island Primary School (my first overseas speaking engagement) were I did two presentations to the whole school, it was a location and a great place to start my trip. I spent the weekend sightseeing in Townsville, as well I managed to catch up with family and friends.

Monday was a sleep in as my first Townsville school, Ryan Catholic College was not till after lunch where I did two presentations to the Grades 3 and 4.

Tuesday saw me head to Townsville Central school again for 2 midday presentations this time to years 5 and 6 with a special guest my daughter Erin and 1 of her friends, the pressure was on, as Erin had never heard me speak before.

Wednesday is usually my rest day, but I was on a mission, I was looking for Cootharinga crippled children’s home where I attended as a day student for grades 1 to 3. Unable to find the exact location I contacted them, they are still around but now as a service provider for people with a disability. After locating the exact address of my old school, I headed off to the head office of Cootharinga to look through their archive library to see if there were any photos of me when I was there at school. I got to meet staff and find out about what Cootharinga does today.

Watch this space more news about this to come.

Thursday was the busiest day of this trip starting with a presentation to students at Townsville Grammar’s Northshore Junior Campus speaking to prep to year 3 with several guests like Peter from Townsville Sailablity, and the marketing department of Cootharinga and numerous parents visiting the school on its annual open day. I believe the adults were as impressed as the students of what you can achieve with a positive attitude and simply having ago.

I said my goodbyes, jumped back into the car and headed off to Ingham for Ingham High’s awards night what a school and a fantastic bunch of students.

 

Friday saw me back at the high school for the whole day, which started with judging a photo competition, followed by a talk to a small group in an informal atmosphere, then it was off to art class where I did my presentation then talked with students about my art but more importantly their art. I did 3 of these 70-minute art groups only interrupted by 2 meal breaks with students.

Friday night saw me out on the town with friends for a joint birthday dinner at Ingham’s finest restaurant Enrico’s with Michael and Ruth Mathews & 2 of their children and their first grandchild. Fantastic food and Fantastic friends.

Over the weekend we retraced our tracks to be at Maryborough Special school for Monday to do my last presentation on this year’s North Queensland adventure with over 1118 people who listened to me speaking along the way. Then it was home to my lounge chair with lots of rest and some drawing, while Trevor unpacks and cleans the car and catches up on his chores.

That just about covers our 2 weeks to North Queensland this winter till next year.

You take that “T” off “I Can’t” it becomes “I Can”

 

 

 

I had the pleasure of speaking at my local View club last week. They kindly gave me this beautiful pen as a thank you gift. I met around 60 lovely ladies who work tirelessly for their community. It was a lovely way to spend the morning, luckily my heart decided to wait untill that night before doing an unusual beat (even for me) and I ended up in hospital for the night. Trying new medication to keep the rhythm of my heart beat in a more regular beat not this punk rocking beat that it wanted to do. The joys of being a thalidomide baby is that there aren’t many places where the Doctors can draw blood from me, all the veins that they used to use in my feet now all collapse as soon as the needle goes in. The only place left is the femeral artery which is in my groin, not the nicest place to have blood drawn from but it is the only place that works well. There is also the concern that it will be hard to get an IV drip into me in an emergency or for future operations that I need to have done. These are the joys of Thalidomide that no one thinks about yet they are life saving regular testing that doctors carry out everyday on people with out the trials of having to do it on thalidomide survivors who are missing their limbs through 1 little pill.

 

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My Road Trip to Far North Queensland 2017

 

20 days – 5500 km’s –  12 schools –  2129 students

 

What better way to spend a few weeks in the middle of winter than to take a road trip to the Cairns Region.

The 12 schools covered a broad spectrum, private and state, both primary and secondary, from country schools of 29 students to city schools with a campus of 1800 plus students. Schools participation varied from whole school to target groups from one presentation to multiple presentations over the whole day.

I now have a new name “Miss Trish”, the students were not only polite and respectful, they were engaging and eager to hear my stories and share theirs with me. The addition of short video clips to my A/V presentation was extremely well received and generated a lot of discussion. The fidget spinner clip was just as entertaining for the senior schools as it was for the junior students, I will have to work on more tricks with the spinner for next year.

I don’t charge a fee for my speaking, but I am highly paid in other ways.

One student removed her zentangling drawing of a dolphin from an art display and gave it to me.

At another school after speaking several young students waited in turn to speak privately to me one insisted I take his 3 marbles and keep them, another young girl gave me her ‘strive to be kind’ bracelet and a third girl while listening to me speak turned her award certificate into an origami heart. It is these little heart felt gestures that just blown me away.

At one secondary college at the end of the day, the young lady (student) thanking me for spending the day at their college struggled with her speech as the emotions of my presentation bought her and then a large group of students to tears. The next day teaching staff asked another year group of students at the same college to write reviews of my presentations. I received an email a few days later and it was my turn to burst out crying as I read review after review from these students WOW.

I also got to meet a student who through one of his teachers I have been mentoring over the last 6 months on disability issues.

At a lot of schools, I speak in the leadup to a break, students can then come and speak to me in a more private setting (my microphone is turned off) to say thank you or to share a story maybe ask a question they couldn’t ask in front of all their fellow students, or even just to give me a hug.

Another moment for me was at a primary school I had just spoken at, as I was leaving a young non-verbal girl tapped the empty seat beside her and gestured for me to sit with her and we played together with her dinosaurs.

The following just shows the difference you can make, at one College a senior student had decided, he did not need me to tell him anything, so he sat outside. During my presentation, he quietly entered the room and took his seat, at the end of my presentation he came to me and apologized for his rude behaviour and not showing me respect and he enjoyed my presentation and he should have been inside from the beginning and he apologized again. This young gentleman then escorted me back to the office to sign out.

It is hard to put into a few words and share some of responses and their stories of meeting these fantastic students without identifying them, I will not forget meeting them just as sure they will never forget meeting me and listening to my life stories.

 

It has been over a week since I got back home to my favourite couch and I am guessing a few more weeks before I do much of anything, as I am so exhausted.

It is amazing not only how achy breaky my body is after a long trip away from home but just how tiring a trip is. I guess all the door handles I try to open along with disabled toilets not necessarily designed for all disabled people, to tables and chairs that are not at the right height for me to comfortably sit at to eat. Watching a bit of tv or using the computer, even the height of the bed made it hard getting in and out of bed, as for the showers, I did not have to wash my hair as there was not enough room for me to do it by myself, luckily that was something else I was able to get Trevor (my husband) to help me with. It breaks my heart that he must do more and more to help me with everyday things—simply that means I am losing my ability at a quick rate. Taps why have they got to be so hard to turn on or off? Why can’t every door handle be a lever one?

I could have hired a disabled apartment but they cost more and none were available and just because you pay extra for a bigger disabled room does not mean it is suitable for me.

Finally thankyou to my physiotherapist for her great weekly effort to get me in shape to do these trips and then fix my problems when I get back. These sessions with her are anything but relaxation they are pure torture, but if I didn’t go to her I wouldn’t move at all.    Keep smiling,  Trish

 

These are the three marbles, the ‘Strive to be Kind’ band & the heart that was given to me.