For almost half of her life, Carol-Anne has been involved with The Y. Starting her journey in the ‘Teens’ program and moving through a number of other Y-run programs, the 22-year-old is now working casually as a volunteer at her local Y branch in Whittlesea, VIC.
As a volunteer and community member, Carol-Anne spends most of her time engaging with The Y in some capacity. “I’m either volunteering or participating nearly every day. People have inspired me, so I would like to inspire others”.
Annette Jurisch – Community Services Manager at The Y in Whittlesea – has been with Carol-Anne since the start of her journey. “Carol-Anne has gone from being at school with support, to transitioning to a place where she can take part, volunteer and lead,” says Annette. “She really wants to make a difference, and I’ve enjoyed seeing what she’s achieved.”
Since her first placement in childcare, Carol-Anne has worked across a number of different programs, many of which have focused on supporting young people with disabilities.
It’s an area Carol-Anne is particularly passionate about as a young person living with disability herself, as well as having grown up with a younger sister with a disability of her own.
“Growing up I was teaching her how to count and helping her, and I just remember thinking, this is the career I really want to get into,” says Carol-Anne. “It makes me happy just seeing their happy faces when they walk through the door.”
Through touching the lives of those she works with, Carol-Anne has also developed her own social skills and found a support system to lean on. “The Y has given me the opportunity to create a family,” Carol-Anne explains. “I started when I wasn’t really socialising with many people, and now I’m more social. I’ve made a lot of friends and I’ve been able to work with people who are like me.”
Carol-Anne and Annette agree that full time employment with The Y lies in Carol-Anne’s future, and it’s a prospect that truly excites her. “As years go on and time goes on, I’ll still be here. I won’t be going anywhere any time soon.”
With her younger sister now a part of the same ‘Teens’ program that began Carol-Anne’s journey with The Y, her dream is to work with ‘Teens’ in some capacity. “I like being a leader and helping others. It makes me feel good knowing others are getting the support they need.”
“The Y has given me the opportunity to create a family,” Carol-Anne
explains. “I started when I wasn’t really socialising with many people, and now I’m more social. I’ve made a lot of friends and I’ve been able to work with people who are like me.”