Where are you from?
Originally, Darwin, Northern Territory, but currently live in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
So, tell me a little about you.
Okay so, it’s a little bit of a story but I’ll do my best to make it quick.
Ten years ago I was diagnosed with an unidentifiable progressive tissue disorder that affects me on a cellular level. So puberty hit for me and my bones twisted. I grew way too tall too fast. But an underlying connective tissue disorder sort of came on after and it caused all sorts of different issues for me.
So, I struggle with a very rare medical condition and doctors said they had no idea what it was but I was told I was dying.
I had no one give me a chance. I couldn’t get employment anywhere. And even in school I was taught grade two level all the way to grade 10 because they didn’t believe I had a chance, because I had disabilities.
But, instead of being down about it, back in 2016 my mother came to my room and said “You’re not dead yet. What do you want to do?”
And I turned to her and said “I want to become the face of change.”
So, I thought about what are the issues out there in the community that people struggle with and I picked an interesting task which was toilets, public facilities.
They are the cornerstone of society because everybody needs to be able to toilet to survive. And I realized there was a massive issue because, at the moment, people struggle to use the public facilities when they have disabilities… or the everyday person, parents with small children, small children and even the elderly.
There are a lot of different factors. So I went out around the community and talked to people, took everyone out their label boxes and thought how can we best support everyone. What can we do?
So, I then went to QUT and actually started to design products with the university. Went away from there and brought in another designer, created a whole new thing. And we’ve ended up with the next evolution for toilets and bathrooms, something that is going to help people get across safely onto the toilet without falling from wheelchairs and medical aids.
I started to become a global advocate and public speaker. And, my mother, she believed in me, but at the same time she didn’t because she didn’t think I had the confidence or the ability to be able to speak in front of people.
So, she had me originally recording it on a device and then playing it back to the audience while I sat there as a prop. So, basically I had my first experience public speaking in front of 50 people when the machine malfunctioned. And I found I really loved public speaking.
I go into schools and I mentor students and I share my journey and my story on how I have turned my disability and medical condition around from being upset and debilitated and not having a life to creating an industry market and global change around it.
So we created Accessibili-t. Accessibili-t is not-for-profit charity that is about creating awareness and real inclusion. And now we have Accessibili-t Plus, which is the corporate that will endorse the products.
I’m just back from speaking at the United Nations about creating a global standard for inclusion, so that was interesting.
What’s important to you and your life?
What’s important to me in my life would actually be creating real inclusion. I myself was trapped for seven years, bed bound, unable to get out, unable to live my life, being trapped in my home, and it made me wonder how many other millions of people to even billions are trapped in theirs.
And because of the public infrastructure a lot of the time we can’t get out. We’re always timed around toilets. We’re always timed around different things. So what can we do to change it? So. I went about it, thought outside the box. And found that my core value, what I really find what matters is real inclusion.
So, what does that look like in your day to day life?
What does real inclusion look like? Real inclusion into my everyday life would be be able to get out of bed get into my chair and going down the street without hassle of having to worry about someone to assist me onto the toilet, someone to be there when I have to require assistance. Basically, I’d be able to get out and live my life the way I want. I go and get a job and not have the worry of work health and safety without the proper utilities or facilities to cater for your needs.
That’s what inclusion is to me, is to be able to live our lives and get out again.
And in terms of sharing that message with others and inspiring other people to be that way as well what does that look like to you?
If they have a dream or a goal or lose the inclusion and you have a way that you think you can make it happen what is stopping you? What exactly is stopping you from going forward. If you have one person behind you believing in you and notice you. I’m one of those people who could say: if you have a dream, just do it.
Get out there cause your biggest holdback is yourself. So go for it. Yeah. I literally did and now I’m a global advocate, public speaker, entrepreneur, inventor, humanitarian and so forth, the list goes on.
Has anyone ever asked you this question before?
The question of What’s important to you and your life? I think I have been asked it once before and I couldn’t answer that because it was at the very beginning. I was still trying to find myself and along on this journey I struggled to find who I am and where I belong within this world. And to find what mattered to me the most, I didn’t find that until 2 years ago. Was when I started to realize what I found mattered.
And do you find that having been asked that question has an impact on you? Is it something you think about all the time?
It is. I do think about it a lot and I always try to bring myself back to my core value which I believe is what matters to me is, inclusion. Yeah, because only if you follow what your core value is and what matters to you can you make the change.
So, who in your life do you think would benefit from being asked this question?
There are a number of people I can think of that would benefit from this question being asked and a number of people I know that would be stumped by this question and not know how to answer.
So. I honestly think, if you just go up to the next person and say “What’s important to you in your life?” you’re either going to get one of two answers. You’re going to get the answer or you’re going to get “I don’t know.”
So. when it comes to someone I know, there’s too many to name.
Kathryn is a changemaker, humanitarian, inclusion advocate, inventor and is the face of non-profit organisation Accessibili-t