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Youth Support Officer (Transcript)

So I’m a Youth Support Officer here at VisAbility and I really enjoy my work working with the youth mainly aged around about 12 through to 18 years.

[Voice-over, Ryan, Youth Support Officer] and sometimes a little bit further. Really enjoy working with that group of children because it’s a big time, big change in their lives. They’re moving from I guess you know primary school to high school and you really see them grow and I guess take on the direction that where they’re going to head for the rest of their lives. So it’s a great role. So I work with them there and work with a little bit of – I work with the youth in the areas of Career Development.

We talk about any hassles they may have at school at the time, I also talked to them about, especially going for voluntary work and getting some work experience to see what it’s like out there in the work force, we talked about what they’re going to study and do a lot of mentoring I guess and giving them ideas as to where they might want to go or how they want to go in their lives.

What is important when working with a child with vision impairment?

One of the best things to consider is not to do too much for them. Even when I work with the children, I don’t do a lot of things for them. I’ll help them and I’ll point them in the right direction and I’ll find what they need, but when it actually comes to say ringing that person to get their voluntary job or something like that, I won’t do it I might ring that person beforehand and let them know that “A” might ring you next week and talk to you about that job but I won’t ring that person for “A” I won’t do, it’s being mindful of that these children are normal people, they are all it is they’re vision impaired but they’re still normal people and they can still do everything that anyone else does. So yeah definitely not doing anything for them don’t bring the world to them. Let them go to the world.

What particular things are you able to bring to children because of your own vision impairment?

I think for me personally it’s the fact that if I can do it, they can do it because there’s no difference apart from maybe my face is a bit more wrinkly, I’m a bit older but there’s no difference between them and myself. I’m vision impaired, their vision impaired. So I feel if I can go out and achieve these things, there’s no reason why those children can’t go out and achieve those things and if you’re a parent would be a very young vision impaired child, I think you know you need to expect your child to be able to do what most other children do at their age so once again don’t do everything for them. Let that child do what they need to do and be as normal as of a child as they can.

Do people still do things for you that you can do for yourself?

That still happens even at the age that I’m mat you know. I’m halfway through my life and I still get people doing it for me you know thinking that I can’t do these things and it gets quite frustrating actually I must admit, it’s some days you actually get very – it can be soul destroying you know and really frustrating and so it can actually sometimes make you feel a little bit angry inside because you think, I can do that you don’t need to do that for me.

Can you just let me do that you know and one of the things I really like about being around my family is that, generally my family don’t do things like that for me, because they know me well and they know that Ryan can do that, he’s alright. It’s being around other people and they’ll do things for and you think well I can do that myself, I don’t need your help. It’s up to the individual to, I guess tell people what they need helping and what they don’t need help in and it does happen to me you know when people do a job for me that I could have done, it takes me a little while but then finally I’ll come around and say you know – hey look I can do that for myself next time

I don’t need you to do that for me or just stop I’m quite capable of doing this. So it is something to teach your children to be able to speak up and advocate for themselves and let people know what they need and what they don’t need.

What does inclusion mean, and what does it look like when it’s working well?

The word inclusion doesn’t always come up in my world, in my work but I know, I guess inclusion to me means having a vision impaired child doing what every other child is doing, being a part of the school group or a scouting group or a sporting group and not making that sport any different because you’ve got a vision impaired child there. For example, don’t have a sports team say can kick ball around the foot an oval and having the vision impaired child sitting on the side, just rolling a ball backwards and forwards with someone else.

Inclusion is that vision impaired child running around with the rest of the team kicking the ball around the oval, you might have to give it a bell ball or the colour contrast on the ball, the ball might have to be different color. But inclusion is when that child is doing exactly what everybody else is doing. So if you know not giving them any allowances. When you give a child with any disability an allowance, effectively you’re taking inclusion away from them.

You’re isolating them again, it’s very easy to be isolated as a person with a vision impairment and so including them is, you know it’s a definitely is not putting other barriers or other things in place that isolates that child so including them and everything you’re doing – so even back to thinking about home, including your vision impaired child in the house work, including your vision impaired child in the dishes at the end of the night or cooking the meals or doing work around the house, including the gardening and everything like that, that’s inclusion because they’re part of the family, they’re a part of they’re expected to be what everyone else in the family is meant to be.

When it comes to the scout group if the vision impaired child wants to be fully included in that scout group well then give them a hammer and get them to put the pegs in the ground for putting up the tent as well, just like everybody else. Don’t let them say go sit off the side and just wait there while we put the tent up for you. Know that child should be in there and doing it as well and making the mistakes like every other child is and learning from those mistakes too. And you can see it when you see the children working coming through here, you can see the difference in the parents that do include the children in everyday living, compared to those parents that do a lot for the children and just working with them and on the sleepovers than that here, you can see that in the morning because you’ll see some of them will be up and dressed and ready to go and this includes people who are children, who are totally blind I’m not just saying it’s the ones who have got a vision impairment – they’re ready, they’re dressed, their bags are done, the beds are made, what everything’s complete and yet the ones whose parents do a lot for them all the time and it’s all well-meaning, it’s not you know I don’t want to say that those parents are awful for doing this but you can see the difference where those other children are struggling because they just haven’t had that responsibility of been told what’s – you know how to do it.