At just 11 months old, Athena experienced her first and only convulsion, developing mild-cerebral palsy as a result. But she never let it stop her doing what she loves.
Since her first disability advocacy speech at age 13, Athena, now 48, has been passionate about educating others on disability. When she found herself unemployed seven years ago, she was determined to get back into work and do what she loves most.
“I was a lecturer with a university, but I had to resign and I was out of work for seven years,” Athena explained.
“I lost a lot of confidence then. Seven years is a long time. But talking about disability awareness is something I’m very passionate about, it’s very close to my heart.”
With the help of MAX Employment Burwood, Athena conquered her anxiety and started working with Variety – the Children’s Charity
as a workshop facilitator of the Just Like You disability education program.
“It’s all about disability awareness, so I drive to different primary schools in Sydney and deliver these workshops.
“It was like the position was made for me. I loved it. I’m a public speaker, and I have cerebral palsy. I loved making an impact on the kids, and I was really proud of myself to see what I achieved,” she said.
MAX Employment Burwood Consultant Anthony Aoun said the transformation he has seen in Athena has been remarkable.
“Athena’s done so well, we’re really happy for her. She was really passionate about disability awareness, so when we found this position we knew it would be perfect for her.
“She’s so much happier and more confident now. Athena was a bit anxious about starting work again but the team was great in helping her through, and her employer has been really supportive,” he said.
Athena said she’s thrilled to see the impact she makes on children every day through her role.
“I show the kids a photo of three people and ask them to pick out the person who doesn’t have cerebral palsy. Obviously they pick the person that looked the most able-bodied. When I tell them that all three have cerebral palsy, they’re shocked. But I love that! The look on their faces is priceless. It felt so good to make such a positive impact on them,”
“One of the kids I taught attends my church. He was sitting with his grandma and he pointed me out and said ‘that was the lady that came to our school and taught us, she was really good.’ That was a really special thing to hear. I loved that.
“I really appreciated Anthony and Danielle at MAX Burwood who were supportive and encouraging during this process.”
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