Success in sight
A YOUNG wheelchair user is out to take the broadcasting world by storm.
Olivia Shivas was born with muscular dystrophy, but isn’t letting it get in the way of her mission to increase the representation of disabled people in the media.
‘‘Since I was young I wanted to be a news presenter,’’ the 20-year-old says.
‘‘It’s now about wanting to be a role model and being seen as a person with a disability who can have an exciting job that people would assume I couldn’t have.’’
The Pt Chevalier resident is well on the way to achieving her goal. She is studying broadcast journalism at Auckland University of Technology.
She knew she wanted to study communications during her final year of high school but was afraid to leave her comfort zone.
‘‘I was the one that limited myself at first. I thought I might have to do a correspondence course because it’s easier,’’ she says.
‘‘But my parents, physio and teachers were the ones who told me not to go for the easy option.’’
Miss Shivas’ condition means all the muscles in her body are weaker than average.
The biggest issue she consistently faces is accessibility. Getting around physical barriers like stairs is tricky.
However after some research she found it would be possible to go to the school offering her degree of choice.
‘‘Growing up I never saw anyone with a disability on TV, or just in the media in general, so I thought it would be really cool to be a role model for young girls,’’ she says.
‘‘Growing up as a girl you have so many insecurities, but when you have a disability it is an added insecur- ity. That is something like to change.’’
Miss Shivas’ condition is hereditary and her father and brother also live with muscular dystrophy. But she is the only wheelchair user.
‘‘In a way it was good being brought up in a family with disability because I didn’t feel so isolated and we could understand each other. I think that has always encouraged me.’’
Her can-do spirit is what has seen Miss Shivas selected as a finalist in the youth
I’d category of the 2013 Attitude Awards.
The national awards celebrate the excellence and achievements of Kiwis living with disabilities.
Miss Shivas was nominated for the award by StarJam, a non-profit group that gives disabled children an opportunity to perform on stage.
She has been a StarJam member for about nine years.
‘‘Finding out about the award felt weird, because I know about the Attitude Awards, and I feel like all these people are just so incredible,’’ she says.
‘‘I just felt honoured in a way.’’
Rolling success: Olivia Shivas has been selected as a finalist in the Youth category at the 2013 Attitude Awards.