Nick, 62 years old, has lived with total visual impairment since he was 7 years old. For him, living an active, full life is key.
Nick is a competitive runner and Paralympian. He has also dabbled in mountain climbing and desert walks.
Nick has been a member of Achilles Running Club since it started in Sydney in 1996.
“Achilles has changed my life,” Nick says. “For one hour a week on a Sunday, each chapter gets together and we share life, walk or run with others, laugh, and have a great time.”
He had previously competed in 100m, 200m, and 400m races. After joining Achilles, he took up long-distance running, which led him to run marathons and ultra-marathons.
Nick goes to the track twice a week and his support worker is his guide runner. He has just returned to competing for the first time in 36 years and is planning to run a couple of short-distance races later this year.
He adds, “A support worker also takes me swimming in the local pool, which is much better than going alone. It’s a social activity as well as exercise.”
“I’ve been on some pretty interesting bushwalking adventures,” Nick says, “plus picnics, ferry trips and day trips to the Blue Mountains.”
Nick recently completed a 3-day desert walk on his own using Braille and an audible compass. He booked a support worker on Mable to help him plan it.
“It was absolutely wonderful,” he says. “The weather made it more challenging, but I loved every minute of it. I knew I could do it, I’d trained for it, and I had great support workers who believed in me. They worked out the technology and sorted out the safeguards and risk factors.”
A confirmed art lover, Nick also has a support worker take him to art exhibitions and galleries. “They help to describe the art for me, which means the world,” he shares.
Aside from getting support for the things he loves to do, Nick gets assistance from his support workers for the everyday tasks. These include:
- Maintaining his website
- Support with his studies in Board Directorship
- Help with sales of the book ‘The Many Ways of Seeing’, so he can engage with people who want to chat with him
- Taking him to events and helping him with accessibility of the location
- Food shopping, cooking, and meal prep
- Going with him for hospital visits for practical and emotional support.
Finding his kind of independence with Mable
For Nick, the pricing on Mable is “much friendlier” and the Mable app offers excellent accessibility. “It’s very logical in the way it’s set up and it’s so easy to use, even for someone without vision.”
Nick says independence is about having choice. “I believe in weighing up independence with offers of assistance. For instance, I can cross a road by myself but if someone offers to help me, it saves me a lot of concentration.”
He adds, “In unfamiliar environments, having a support worker, a customer service person, or a member of the public offer assistance is much appreciated. Sometimes it saves me a lot of unnecessary stress.”
Similarly, Nick says, relying on his workers is better than depending on family because as a paid service, the support is on his terms. “It means not having to rely on the goodwill and generosity of other people who may be busy with their own lives.”
“Mable is definitely playing a role in inclusivity. The quality of workers is really good,” he adds, “and people like myself feel embraced and supported.”
A misconception non-disabled people often seem to have, according to Nick, is that people with disability are “automatically nice and happy”.
“We have good days and bad days just like everyone else. Also, blind people don’t always have better hearing! It’s just that our other senses can be more heightened to compensate for our lack of vision.”
Nick’s hopes for people with disability
Nick wishes that inclusivity was a higher priority in the community. “The more organisations encourage and support people with disabilities, and encourage others to do so too, the better life will be. We like to be made to feel welcome, introduced to others, included in activities.”
Nick encourages people to join the Achilles Club. “They don’t have to be good runners, they can walk. We have people from all fitness levels. Achilles provides a huge social outlet. I find that even people who are trying to come to terms with their disability – mental or physical – get a lot out of it.”