For a good few years of my childhood, I loved to swim. I learned to swim when I was six, the instructor told my mum that I would never learn to ‘roll and breathe’ which is what all legitimate swimmers do in stroke.
I changed instructors and begun taking swimming seriously when I was 11. My new instructor taught me to swim from scratch. He put me in a kiddie pool, gave me some flippers so that my legs wouldn’t make me sink and told me that I would learn to roll and breathe.
It took months, but eventually, I could swim 1 km in a 45-minute lesson. I could also roll and breathe.
The lesson here is that the people you have around you are the ones who can help either enable or disestablish your success. At this point in my life if someone said to me “you can’t…” I would probably respond with a “yes I can”- and I’d go about achieving whatever I set my mind on. At the time I was learning to swim through, I was too young to advocate for myself.
I’m now 18 and in some way I advocate for myself every day, I am lucky, however, to be surrounded by people who help me to complete actions and have experiences that I mightn’t otherwise have had.
If you follow me on Instagram you will know that I recently climbed Rangitoto with Lululemon Peak Seekers. That experience occurred because of Jesse James, Lloyd Andrews, Kennedy Anderson and all the people willing to help me. I couldn’t have done it without them.
View this post on Instagram
18 years, 16 surgeries, many bylines, a wee bit of a broken heart thanks to a guitarist, 1 Fashion Week, 2 modelling campaigns, 2 jetskis with @logan_dodds, 1 drivers license & adapted car, 1 impending race with @liammmalone and 1 mountain climb with @lululemonakl and a @yeahbowl_poke bowl later. This body has taken me on many adventures. Anything and everything that I decide is possible I will do from it. Thank you @jessejames1212 for believing that and for supporting me in making these things happen. I love you very much ✨ even more because we take the same coffee order • check out @kennedynz for the video he put together of the day ❤️ #thepeakseekers photo: @alicevanschaik • [image description for voice over users: Jesse pushes Grace off of ferry. Photo overlooks dock that led to Rangitoto Island. The mountain climbed for the Peak Seekers event]
In another life I might be the kind of person who goes on hikes all the time, or I might be a total couch potato; I don’t know who I would be if I could walk. All I know is that in this life I want to do and be as much as I can both for myself and for the bettering of the world. I have set out to give my life in part to the dedication of disability advocacy. I believe that by being present in a plethora of spaces that are not akin to the normal disability narrative I can, with the help of people like Jesse and Lloyd, shift the way disability is looked upon.
One of my very good friends was a wheelchair user, she has since lost her life; but she is up there kicking my butt to make sure I live this life to the best of my ability; and thank you, to every person who helps me to do that especially to all the people at Rangitoto and to Logan Dodds another of my adventure mates, my parents and a special mention to all the people who still exist that believe disability is a limitation, you are wrong.
Live your best life.