The Courier-Mail - QWeekend
As a child, I was in and out of the children’s hospital a lot. Due to my disability, I had a lot of surgery, operations on my hips and on my feet, and several other operations. I have cerebral palsy so I’m wheelchair bound. My mum, Tammy, was very supportive during this time. I fell in love with the goals that the children’s hospital had and the volunteers, and how helpful they were. As an adult, I wanted to give back and I’ve been a volunteer for a year.
I grew up on the Gold Coast around Southport and Coomera. We were moved around a lot as kids, along with my brother, Liam, and sisters, Skye, Chelsea, and Shannon. I did my schooling at Coombabah High School and it wasn’t long after that I got into volunteering at Freedom, Social Justice Growth Australia on the Gold Coast. After some time, and moving in with my girlfriend’s family, I began volunteering at the Redlands Hospital. I like to think that the families we support are grateful for our help, especially with the other divisions within the Children’s Hospital Foundation from holding bay volunteers and baby cuddlers, down to Wayfinders.
I’m a Woolworths Wayfinder and my role entails guiding people around the hospital. We show patients and their families where to go for their outpatient appointments, give them information about the hospital’s facilities, and make sure that they are comfortable.
We also make sure that they’ve had an enjoyable time because as an expatient, I know just how stressful it can be.
I volunteered at the Queensland Children’s Hospital about once a week on a Monday for about four hours, preCOVID. Now, I’m doing about two and a half hours’ work. I was at the old children’s hospital as a patient, so I’m still learning the facilities even after a year.
The most memorable situation during my time there is seeing other people with wheelchairs look at me. They come up to me and ask whether I’m volunteering and I enjoy telling them that it’s my way of giving back to the community, that it was my way of giving back to this hospital that looked after me as a child. Anyone with a disability, I like to put a smile on their face and let them know that life doesn’t have any barriers. I know that finding something that you’re passionate about and finding a place that you fit in with and a place that fits in with you – finding somewhere you’re happy to belong to – is the best thing a person can do. I don’t think I will be leaving volunteering for years to come.
The best thing about volunteering is meeting new people every day. Not every day is the same. Sometimes we’ll be sitting there at our desks and other days we’ll get a report that someone has collapsed in a bathroom and we’d have to action that. I enjoy working with my bosses at the hospital – Nicky, Teagan, and Kerry. They’re my mentors. They’ve given me the chance and a place to work here and they don’t treat me any differently just because I’m in a wheelchair. The foundation does a lot of good things for the community and I’m glad to be a part of that.