Shin­ing star flips switch

Ad­vo­cate for equal­ity given the hon­our

Central Telegraph - - NEWS -

CAIT­LYN Dono­hoe switched on the fes­tive lights for the Biloela Christ­mas Fes­ti­val and helped to light up the hearts of the peo­ple who were there.

The high school grad­u­ate has an out­stand­ing com­mit­ment to her com­mu­nity and was cho­sen as this year’s lo­cal to turn on the lights at the Lions Park Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tion.

She also led the crowd in count­ing down to the big mo­ment.

The Biloela High School grad­u­ate was born with a rare mus­cle con­di­tion called Arthro­gry­po­sis, a con­gen­i­tal joint con­trac­ture in two or more ar­eas of the body.

Cait­lyn, who has been an in­spi­ra­tional mem­ber of the com­mu­nity, be­lieves “knowl­edge is power” and this mo­ti­vates her to re­duce the stigma of­ten sur­round­ing phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties.

“A lot of dis­crim­i­na­tion comes from mis­un­der­stand­ing and I like to make it clear as pos­si­ble and des­tig­ma­tise it,” Cait­lyn said.

“It’s just facts in the same way that I’m 17 years old and have brown hair.”

Cait­lyn is un­able to move her hands above her head and likes to talk about is­sues sur­round­ing liv­ing with a phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity.

De­spite all these chal­lenges, Cait­lyn has been busy at var­i­ous func­tions speak­ing out to raise aware­ness.

In Aprils she was a state fi­nal­ist in Lions Youth of the Year com­pe­ti­tion for high school stu­dents and won the pub­lic speak­ing com­po­nent.

Sev­eral months ago, par­tic­i­pated in Queens­land Youth Par­lia­ment in Bris­bane as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Bur­nett and tak­ing on the role of Op­po­si­tion Leader.

“We had been mak­ing Bills and got to de­bate them in that week and I met lots of like-minded young peo­ple,” Cait­lyn said.

Now that school has fin­ished and the com­mu­nity em­braces the fes­tive spirit, Cait­lyn said Christ­mas was a spe­cial time of year in ru­ral ar­eas that united lo­cals.

Es­pe­cially dur­ing tough times such as the cur­rent drought.

“In ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties it can be eas­ier for peo­ple to feel iso­lated and Christ­mas brings peo­ple to­gether to cel­e­brate and be jovial to­gether which is su­per im­por­tant,” Cait­lyn said.

Next year will be a busy one with Cait­lyn plan­ning to study law and arts at Univer­sity of Queens­land with the hopes of one day be­ing a hu­man rights lawyer.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

LIGHTS ON: Cait­lyn Dono­hoe, pic­tured with friend Kate­lyn Nin­ness, helped to turn on the Christ­mas lights at the Biloela Christ­mas Fes­ti­val. Turn to page 11 for pho­tos of the fes­ti­val.

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