Loud and Proud
A story about Mary-Anne's experience of advocating for herself as a person with disability.
Hi, my name is Mary-Anne Cosic and I have Cerebral Palsy Diplegia. I have been doing leadership and advocacy for about 30 years of my life. I am proud to say that I have been making changes for other people that have disabilities in the community as well as able bodied people. In my view, it doesn’t matter if you are able bodied or a disabled person, you still need to be able to access and participate within your community and be treated as an equal.
In the mid 1980’s, I was one of the first children with a disability to be put into mainstream schooling. When I went to school, there was no such thing as disability facilities such as toilets, ramps or anything like that. I had to advocate for myself from a very young age. I was basically what I suppose you could call ‘a pioneer in the community’, helping to make mainstream schools inclusive and accessible for people with disability into the future.
I went through high school, and I used to advocate for others at making sure that the school was wheelchair accessible and that disabled people had the same rights as able bodied people did.
The biggest thing I did for the high school was making sure the school had two disabled toilets, with one that had a shower attached to it. When I had started, there was only one disabled toilet to the five disabled people that were attending the high school. I have been passionate about advocating all my life.
I have been passionate about advocating all my life.
I went on to do some of my education with Gordon TAFE and when they did their upgrades, I made sure that the toilets were also upgraded and accessible and that they had buttons to get in and out. I completed my Diploma in Community Services and had the mindset that ‘using a wheelchair doesn’t mean you can’t make change.’
I have also worked on community projects for the council of the Greater City of Geelong. I was aware of the things that needed to change within the community, like making sure footpaths are accessible to people in wheelchairs. Where I used to live, the footpaths were uneven and not wheelchair friendly, so I made sure that they were all changed.
Things have been hard during lockdowns and even though Geelong is not currently in one, I am still unable to leave my house due to health reasons and my own anxieties. I have had to stay indoors and will have to until this pandemic dies down, so I have learnt to deal with those stresses in different ways.
One of the ways I have learnt to manage stress that I am quite proud of is through creating artwork. I love creating pieces with crystal gems and then having them framed and sold to people on Facebook. This has kept me busy and helped with the stress of being stuck at home all the time.
Thank you for listening to my story.
Note – This story was written by Speakers Bank based on an interview with Mary Anne.
Tip: If you would like to hear more about Mary Anne’s story, you can watch her video on the Speakers Bank YouTube channel.