THE start of the new school year brings with it the reintroduction of a unique program in Orange schools.
Just Like You is spearheaded in Orange by Prue McCarthy who takes the program to primary and high school-aged children to help break down the barriers and myths associated with living with a disability.
Ms McCarthy, who has cerebral palsy, yesterday welcomed Jayson Hanrahan to the program as a volunteer and together they will visit schools to talk to children about their experiences of living with a disability.
“The kids have asked me all kinds of questions from things as simple as what sort of pet I have at home,” she said.
Ms McCarthy said she felt fortunate she grew up in a supportive household where her parents encouraged her and told her anything was possible despite her disability.
“It must be hard for people who don’t have the kind of support I did,” she said.
“I worked in my grandfather Max McCarthy’s pharmacy when I was a teenager and that helped a lot - talking to people and helping get the message across about living with a disability.”
Mr Hanrahan said he took up the invitation of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Orange hoping he could make a difference to attitudes towards people living in the community with a disability.
Mr Hanrahan said with a trial in place for the National Disability Scheme, volunteering to work in schools with Ms McCarthy is another way of shedding more light on the challenges of living with a disability.
“I am also looking at it as a way of educating the children with my seeing eye dog,” said Mr Hanrahan, whose vision decreased as he grew older.
“When I was 12 I had only 50 per cent of my vision and now I don’t have any at all,” he said.
Ms McCarthy said Orange East Public School and Orange Christian School were the first two schools in Orange this year to accept the invitation for the Just Like You program in their schools.