Re­nee’s jour­ney goes full cir­cle

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - News - BY EMMA PRIOR

Re­nee McCarthy re­mains hum­ble and likes to go about her own busi­ness de­spite be­ing a key player in the run­ning of the En­abling Women Lead­er­ship Pro­gram in Wan­garatta.

“I still like to stay in­volved in my other ac­tiv­i­ties and do my own thing de­spite my new found suc­cess,” she said.

When Re­nee was younger she says she used to be a quiet, shy soul, some­thing you wouldn’t be­lieve now.

“This pro­gram opened my eyes, don’t let dis­abil­ity stop you from what you want to do, you’ll find a way,” she said.

As a kid al­though suf­fer­ing many med­i­cal mis­for­tunes she did not know she was dis­abled.

“I didn’t know I had a dis­abil­ity but I knew I was dif­fer­ent.” Re­nee said.

Within just a cou­ple of years Re­nee went from be­ing a shy, ner­vous par­tic­i­pant, to men­tor­ing other women to be­com­ing a co- fa­cil­i­ta­tor of the En­abling Women Lead­er­ship Pro­gram.

In a ma­jor achieve­ment she worked along­side Jane Old­field who is the Part­ner­ship and Lead­er­ship Of­fi­cer at Women with Dis­abil­ity Vic­to­ria.

Re­nee took on this role after it was sug­gested to her by a few peo­ple that she should sign up, as they be­lieved it seemed like a role that suited her per­fectly.

“Peo­ple were hint­ing for me to sign up be­cause it would be a good job for me, I’m glad I did,” she said.

Tak­ing a leap of faith, Re­nee found a way to jug­gle her busy sched­ule of vol­un­teer­ing with the lo­cal oral his­tory group and ta­ble tennis coach­ing to in­clude the co-fa­cil­i­ta­tor role of the En­abling Women Lead­er­ship Pro­gram.

Once she got in­volved, she knew she’d made the right de­ci­sion.

“Every­one gets what they want out of the ex­pe­ri­ence. I’ve made new friends out of shared ex­pe­ri­ence from not just fel­low par­tic­i­pants but men­tors and vice versa,” Re­nee said.

“I ended up think­ing why not try this, why not take on this chal­lenge and help other women.”

The pro­gram of­fers women with a dis­abil­ity, the chance to dis­cover their strengths, find their voice and chal­lenge them­selves within their home com­mu­ni­ties.

After these pro­grams the women are able to go away with in­for­ma­tion about their rights, lead­er­ship skills, con­nec­tions with other women and new skills and con­fi­dence.

Since join­ing as a par­tic­i­pant her­self in 2015, Re­nee said the pro­gram had changed ac­cord­ing to the needs of each of the par­tic­i­pants and every­one is ac­cepted.

“I started here in 2015 and now I have come full cir­cle” Re­nee said.

“I re­alised in the pro­gram I can do this on my own and now I am a home owner.”

Al­though it’s been a chal­lenge be­ing a men­tor last year and pro­gress­ing to co-fa­cil­i­ta­tor this year, Re­nee said it had been an en­rich­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Re­nee said to watch other women with dis­abil­i­ties reach out and seek the as­sis­tance of the En­abling Women Lead­er­ship Pro­gram had been re­ally great to see and re­minded her of her­self.

“The ex­pe­ri­ence was a big step but it was great, it has been a lovely jour­ney,” she said. “See where life takes us.” On August 12, Re­nee took part in the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony of the En­abling Women Lead­er­ship Pro­gram held at the Co­bram Civic cen­tre.

The cer­e­mony pre­sented 10 grad­u­ates who came from all over the shire in­clud­ing Yar­ra­wonga, Nathalia, Nu­murkah and Co­bram with the as­sis­tance of Com­mu­nity Ac­cessA­bil­ity Trans­port.

Since the com­ple­tion of the pro­gram, Re­nee has re­turned to the things she loves, vol­un­teer­ing, the oral his­tory group and of course ta­ble tennis.

She scoffed at sug­ges­tions her new-found suc­cess might see her take off to the big city.

“This com­mu­nity is im­por­tant to me, I’m a coun­try bump­kin” she said.

Re­nee McCarthy, pic­tured with Moira Shire Coun­cil Mayor Gary Cleve­land, en­joyed her role as co-fa­cil­i­ta­tor of the En­abling Women in Lead­er­ship Pro­gram.

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