PERSONAL: A stranger I will never forget

This past weekend my role as a public speaker took me to Auckland for Parent to Parent’s big conference event, and ever since, I haven’t been able to get this woman out of my head.

You know the feeling you get when you know you’ve done a good job at really hitting on a message you always wanted to deliver?

Speaking for Parent to Parent wasn’t only the best time I’ve had as a public speaker so far, but also the most empowering. So many people are affected by disability, much more than you realise, and to be able to speak about my experiences in front of so many people who work in the sector each day or advocating was very rewarding.

After my speech this woman approached me, she had tears streaming down here face, she didn’t say anything at first but just hugged me several times. This woman then informed me that her son had the same disability as me but had passed away at just 5 months old.

That’s right – her 5-month old son passed away.

I cannot tell you the feeling you get speaking to someone like that.

As someone with the same condition, who could have so easily been that little 5-month old boy that lost his life, it is important in my role as a public speaker to always remember the message I want to portray in every speech I make. It varies, but always the core of it is encouragement, but I still know that even with the most encouragement, some disabled people don’t get the opportunities that I do.

That makes what disability advocates, and I hope I have the credibility to call myself one of them, all the more important.

I felt proud, like I had helped someone, even by bringing out some very raw emotions that made them cry. This woman, a complete stranger, reminded me that there are people out there who really need advocates to keep doing what they do, not to tell people how sad or unfair their circumstances are, but to further continue the work that is being done to ensure that disability has a voice in this country.

I don’t really know anything about this woman, I don’t even remember her name. But I do know how she impacted me.

Who knows what the future holds for any of us, but honestly, I will never forget this woman and the very few tear filled words she said to me. It was one of the most rewarding and powerful moments of my entire life, and I don’t think I will ever be able to process it, I am just glad it happened.

I helped someone, and I live a daily life that involves people helping me. It felt great to be on the other side of the fence for one.

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