As Australia prepares to celebrate International Day of People with a Disability this Thursday (December 3), TAFE Western Outdoor Recreation Teacher Michael Rofe believes now is the perfect time to share an inspiring story of success.
That inspiration comes from a young Mudgee TAFE Delivered Vocational Education and Training (TVET) student called Hayden Wake, who overcame huge obstacles to complete a difficult outdoor course in Lithgow and the surrounding Blue Mountains earlier this year.
Just to set the scene, this particular nine-day outdoor course includes bushwalking, camping, rock climbing, canyoning, abseiling and several other hands-on activities in some pretty harsh terrain. Sounds tough, doesn’t it?
Well how about completing these activities with severe vision impairment? Hayden suffers from macular degeneration and this was precisely the challenge that was in front of him.
While many people would have shied away from the challenge, Hayden did not. In fact, he was more determined than most to tackle the course head-on and refused to use his vision impairment as an excuse.
“Going into the camp I didn’t really know what to expect. I was hopeful I could complete a lot of the things everyone else was able to, and I was pretty keen to get in there and give it a try,” he said.
Mr Rofe admitted it took more effort to include Hayden but this more than paid for itself in the additional positive outcomes for Hayden, the other students and staff on the program.
“Hayden is a very impressive young man. His attitude and willingness to get in there and try everything was a real inspiration for not only the students but the teachers as well,” he said.
Hayden added, “For the first couple of days I didn’t really know anyone, but by the end of the course everyone was happy to help me in any way they could. By the time we had finished the course everyone had helped me at some stage. That was really nice, and I’m really happy I’ve made lots of friends from the experience.”
Some of the highlights for Hayden included abseiling down a cliff more than 25 metres high, rock climbing walls higher than 20 metres and walking along canyons using just an aluminum cane.
“I have to thank all of the staff at TAFE for their help – they really went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable,” Hayden said.
TAFE Western Director VET Delivery Andrew Crowley paid tribute to Mr Rofe and all of TAFE Western’s staff who continue to go out of their way to cater for people of all ages and abilities.
“It’s fantastic to see this enormous commitment from our staff to help people with a disability to get out there and experience all aspects of learning,” Mr Cowley said.
Nearly 10 per cent of all enrolments at TAFE Western every year are students with a disability.
TAFE Western employs a specialist team of Disability Teacher Consultants to assist students with a disability like Hayden to succeed at TAFE.
The NSW Government has announced that most courses in 2016 are fee free for people with a diagnosed disability, so there’s never been a better time than now to enrol with TAFE Western.
For more information, visit www.tafewestern.edu.au or phone 6338 2590 to make an appointment with one of our specialist Disability Teacher Consultants today to find out more.