Adua Merola

Adua Merola

At four years old, I boarded at St. Paul’s School for the blind. That experience helped me to be independent and gave me confidence as I would have lived a very sheltered life otherwise as my parents were strict Italians. When I got older, I convinced my parents that I needed to get out and experience the real world.
At thirteen I travelled to school with an orientation and mobility teacher from Coburg to Kew.
I then gained the confidence to travel to the city and enjoyed train travel to the country also. After leaving school, I did an office skills course at Richmond through Work Link which is an agency for people with disabilities.

I represented Australia in the Paralympics in Seoul, Korea when I was 22 years old. I competed in several events and broke Australia’s long jump record and won gold, silver and bronze medals in other events.

I am my mother’s carer and belong to 2 committees through the Moreland City Council.  One is through the Council, I represent the person with vision impairment on this committee. This has been really great for me because I have been able to get footpaths fixed up and have had the beep fixed on pedestrian crossings because a lot of them don’t ‘have that. Paying bills at the Moreland Council has been difficult but they have worked out a system that works for me. I think it’s very important for me to be on this committee, so I can be a voice for the vision impaired and adapt change where it needs to be. The other committee I am on is the Community Engagement Committee at Mary Health. I represent people with vision impairment, this is more about accessibility in buildings.

I’ve lived in the Northern suburbs all my life and have always been vision-impaired. This has not slowed me down too much although I’d like to try lots of different activities. I enjoy cooking, writing short stories, swimming, tandem bike riding, power walking and playing blind table tennis {called swish). I also love music.  I’m also an adventure seeker! I have been rock climbing, abseiling, hand-gliding and hot air ballooning.

I’m about to demolish my house and build a new home with Optimal Homes which is taking up a lot of time but I’m going to end up with a 26 square home with accessibility which is the main reason I’m building. When my house is built it will meet all my needs now and, in the future, as I get older.

In July 2015, I finally got a guide dog Sabrina and we are perfectly matched due to our personalities and both being active, we have bonded really well. Sabrina is now 5 years old and since I’ve had her my life has changed dramatically, she is awesome, loyal, trustworthy and loves me unconditionally. The most important part of her is if she works well for me and keeps me out of danger and she does. I like to reward her every now and then. I bring Sabrina to the aged care facility I work at to do pet therapy for the people who can’t get out of bed and they absolutely love her.  Sabrina has a beautiful, caring nature which is why everyone loves her. Sabrina has been canoeing with me and she loved it. I take Sabrina everywhere except to the zoo because it would stress her out. If people don’t accept my dog, they are not accepting me. I do try to educate people and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  There are people that won’t let me bring my dog into their house which I find very strange and not right.

I love life! I keep myself very busy, never enough hours in a day. I believe what you put into life is what you get out of it. I don’t consider myself with a disability because I like to lead a normal and able life. At the end of the day we are all normal and we all have disabilities but if you have a good attitude you will go a long way.

For more information about Adua please contact Speakers Bank’s Project Officer on 03 9314 0988 or speakersbank@annecto.org.au

Watch Adua’s video: