My dear friend Trish has been an inspiration to me all my life. So the year I taught Year Six in my Primary school and came across an Australian Curriculum Unit of work about inspirational people my mind went directly to her. The unit of work mentioned now famous Australians who had overcome incredible obstacles to achieve extremely successfully in their lives. Amazing achievements actually, but my thoughts went to Trish who has shown such courage, persistence and love to be the incredible person that she is and what she has overcome to be successful in life.
I contacted her about coming to talk to my class, which then snowballed to the whole year six cohort of approximately 100 students. Fortunately for me, she accepted the invitation and challenge as she had never done anything like this before, but I knew it was in her capabilities because this would be nothing compared to what she has faced in her life. Trish was ‘Oh I’m not that inspirational Robyn’, ‘Omg, yes you are,’ I said. So we planned a time for her visit. She arrived at the office, I sent the two school captains to greet her and bring her into class. I remember that moment, she was very timid and I’m sure nervous coming in, as you would be to face 100, 12 year olds, but that particular year our year sixes were incredible young people just wanting to know how she coped with life and its many challenges as a Thalidomide sufferer. What started as going to be a short half hour visit became two hours. She told her story; the children were glued to her every word. A few of us shed a tear when she told us of her birth and the aftermath. The kids were full of questions which Trish answered honestly and without reservation. They felt honoured to know such an incredible person.
Trish showed them how to write with their feet and how she does the everyday life tasks which we so take for granted. The children tried to write with their feet too, there were many giggles at how their writing and drawing turned out, also an appreciation, which they would never have had in their life without Trish. There were many comments of, ‘Are you kidding, how does she do that?’ I was so, so proud of my friend. Trish showed the kids her photography skills and all she has achieved. On completion of our talk, the children didn’t want to let her leave so the whole class walked her to where her husband picked her up at the front of the school. They waved her off and the constant chatter about her life was the topic of many days later. I haven’t had her back to school because now I teach Year Two and that unit of work has moved on to High School Year Seven. But this became a teaching moment that the students and I will never forget. I see these students some times and they talk about Trish’s visit and how amazing she truly is. They ask me how she is going and I have told them that they were just the beginning of an amazing public speaking career moment for her. They smile and are proud of her and themselves.
That day ‘my’ children; our year sixes, were taught many life lessons which they carry with them today. They are now in Year Nine. The hand print Trish painted for us is still hanging on my classroom wall and when asked, I proudly tell my new students just how precious that painting is and exactly what it stands for. That day the kids certainly learnt lifelong lessons and what the word ‘inspirational’ truly means. Trish made her mark on those students and changed and enhanced their lives; she made a difference! I am forever grateful to have her in my life!
Thank you card from Ingham State School.
I really enjoyed my talk at this school and was honoured that they asked me to judge their photographic competition that they had running.
I must say I was totally impressed with the quality of the photographs that the students had taken. Choosing a first, second and third was a very difficult task. There is some awesome talent coming through from this school..
I received this lovely card and book from the school that I gave talks to last week.
Thank you so much for yesterday! It was great! Here’s a little review for you guys to use as you please! Good luck with the rest of your tip!
Trish’s story is captivating and inspirational. The students were thoroughly engaged. It’s a great experience and gives the students some wonderful perspective about their lives. Drawing with their feet was also a huge hit even with the big kids!
Teacher and Head of Year 12
Sarina State High School
I just wanted to thank you both for coming to share your time with us at Ayr High.
In a world where students are used to being told what to do and how to do it, your story is appealing because it is a life story of overcoming challenges, and many young people feel they are facing challenges. It was clear from the comments I heard between students as they walked out that they had been impacted by what they heard.
Your key messages are really on point for young people. The message of pursuing our goals and dreams despite adversity and barriers is never more real than when said by someone who has lived their life that way. I think the inspiration that follows is that it all of us can face our challenges and never give-up. You are a living walking example of why we all need to appreciate and accept difference. It is often those differences that create opportunities for our strengths.
I wish you all the best as you continue to travel and speak. I’m sure others will be inspired by you as our students were.
Head of Senior School & Student Services
Ayr State High School
All of our staff & students were inspired to hear Trish’s story. She presented it with facts and humour. You can see that she had to overcome many obstacles, and she did overcome them with such strength, and in fact every day she still needs to overcome obstacles as she goes through life in constant pain.
I was left feeling touched by her story and in awe of her inner strength.
Thank you Trish for educating our students in so many areas, educational as well as personal.
Your story stayed with us all for a long time.
Administraion Officer Samford Valley High School
Enrolments Officer and High School Administrator, Samford Valley Steiner School