This is a story about potential, effort and achievement. It’s also a story about disability.
Peta Leseberg, from Bathurst, a country town in NSW, talks for the first time in her life about her disability.
When she was born, she couldn’t breathe. As a child, she had slow development.
Her childhood included a lot of time with specialists and therapists. Bullied in primary school, she chose MacKillop College, a private girls school for high school. Despite the loss of funding this entailed, her parents respected her decision.
Her disability impacts on her life in many ways.
Peta has some trouble speaking, due to poor muscle tone. This can lead to misunderstanding and frustration. Peta, in conversation, can be unsure whether people understand her or are just being polite.
Another impact is the value she places on effort and achievement. Peta has a Bachelor of Arts degree, specialising in history. Education is important to her. Also, she spends much of her time volunteering in the community. It’s important to her to give back to the community, in part out of appreciation for the Disability Support Pension she receives.
Peta understands the importance of not judging other people. Rather, always explore their potential. Peta realises it’s easy to judge another person, to see disability and assume that person lacks potential.
The people who taught Peta to value herself were her parents, her godmother, and some teachers in high school, who encouraged her and valued her potential. Peta remembers vividly being told by her ancient history teacher, Mrs Kanarakis, that she would be a good teacher.
While sometimes she wishes she didn’t have a disability, it strongly shapes her identity.
“Sometimes I think I wish I didn’t have it, and sometimes I think, well, my disability’s got me this far, it hasn’t hindered it, why am I so afraid of it?”