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International Day of People with Disability: An Interview with Paralympian Sharon Jarvis

2 December 2021

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a United Nations observed day celebrated on the 3 December globally, and provides an opportunity to celebrate people with disability, their many achievements and contributions in every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life.

With the United Nations theme for 2021 being 'Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world', we wanted to get insights from an individual with disability in a leadership role.

Three-time Paralympian (Equestrian) Sharon Jarvis shares her lived experience of disability and what inclusion, accessibility and sustainability looks like for her.

In the world of competition/sport and in general, where do you see the need/gaps in leadership and participation where PwD (people with disability) could step in, to create a more inclusive, accessible, and sustainable world?

Female in riding gear sitting on a horse mount with a dark brown horse standing behind herIn a world that is becoming increasingly polarised people with disabilities can offer unique perspectives. We can help to unify communities and societies by lending our experiences and wisdom to a sometimes fraught system.
Not only can we advocate for the disabled sector but can offer solutions to the collective for the greater good due to these unique perspectives. For me it is incredibly important that people with disabilities see people in leadership roles that have a disability themselves. This way they can see what can be achieved while having a disability. When people see it, they can believe it, and then they can do it. I am pleased I can be a leader in my job as Equestrian Australia High Performance Para Pathway Co-Ordinator, this is the first time someone with a disability has been in this role at a National High-Performance level. 

 What does a more inclusive, accessible, and sustainable world look like to you?

Inclusive is not a word that I particularly like. We are all unique individuals who are part of a collective and have different strengths and gifts that we can offer the world. I would like to see a more unified approach to our society by consulting and collaborating with people who have similar values and goals and work together for the betterment of all.

 (As Assistive Technology (AT) is what Indigo does) How has/or has AT helped you in achieving greater inclusion, accessibility (and sustainability)?

As my body performs differently, AT has played a huge role in helping me be competitiveFemale in  Australia windbreaker holding the brindle/reins of a dark brown horse in the able-bodied world as well as my Para competitions. Riding with two whips allows me to compete in a more even playing field by being my legs, like other riders. Accessing a scooter to help with long distances at events and around my farm helps me to conserve my energy and prevent injury and keeps me in optimal condition to perform and compete like everyone else. My mounting block is my right hand at any event, I can mount my horse anywhere instead of having to ascertain  if there are facilities available to me at a competition, ultimately deciding if I can participate .

At Indigo we always try to think about disability, and how we can assist people with disability in unique and different ways; our services and our staff’s extensive knowledge of assistive technology (AT) solutions provide daily opportunities for us to make positive changes to the lives of individuals with disability and help grow a more unified and inclusive Australia.

To find out how we can work with you, call our friendly Customer Services team on 08 9381 0600 or email help@indigosolutions.org.au.