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May 20, 2021 28 min

Friends and neighbours Rosie McAdam and Claire Dawson chat about life, education and the need to decide where you want to be - and then, work out what you need to do in order to get there. Rosie is passionate about her belief that no matter who we are we can all contribute to the well-being of our societies.  

Born with the condition commonly known as brittle-bone disease, Rosie recounts some of her very rich and varied life experiences. Intertwined with these stories she and Claire also reflect on the supports, accompaniment and opportunities we all need to fulfil our potential.

In the course of the chat Rosie speaks about the social model of disability which points out that you are only as disabled as your environment. The realisation of this fact can help create change at every level from grassroots to institutions. As a wheelchair user, Rosie understands, for example, the issues that exist when buildings are inaccessible, but it has been her experience that where there’s a will there’s definitely a way! Whether that’s someone making a building accessible, or schoolchildren adapting their playground games to include their friend who uses a wheelchair, the obstacles to inclusion are often easier to remove than we think.

Inspirational, entertaining and insightful Rosie reflects on how her earlier experiences with Sr. Catherine - a nun in the residential unit in which she lived for the first few years of her life - empowered her and shaped her view of how she saw herself. Sr. Catherine was an inspirational woman who understood the need to patiently foster independence and empower the children in her care through helping them to develop the skills they needed to be independent. Sr. Catherine was also a believer in the importance of education.  Both of these values have guided Rosie throughout her life and helped her overcome obstacles and achieve her dreams. 

Claire and Rosie reflect on how there are many disabilities - both visible and invisible - and how the key to inclusion and encouragement is for all of us to simply be open minded about each other. We can change the narrative by forgetting stereotypes and looking at what people can do and how they can contribute rather than focusing on what they can’t do. In other words, seeing the potential in people and understanding that education and support are the keys to unlocking that potential. If we were all to do that then everyone as an individual, and society as a whole, would benefit. 

As Rosie puts it so succinctly - “Everybody can contribute something to the world and it’s just sometimes finding out what that is, because we’re all here for a reason…”

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