Casual Day Youth Hero Kerry Walsh

A young woman who has crammed as much as possible into her 20 years, and who has done more for others than most people twice her age

A young woman who has crammed as much as possible into her 20 years, and who has done more for others than most people twice her age

Meet Kerry Walsh

Kerry Walsh is vivacious, charming, funny and level-headed. She’s midway through her degree in Corporate Communications. She’s already taken her gap year: a year she filled with being a PA, directing and producing a school musical, going on a motivational speaking tour (during which she addressed the full Joburg Mini City Council); and working a stint at a social media marketing business.

 

Right now, whilst preparing for her mid-year exams, she’s single-handedly organising a 22-team, four ball golf day, the proceeds of which will go to a charity. She spends her holidays and weekends earning pocket-money through her own small, but thriving, social media marketing business.

 

All this on its own is pretty impressive. But throw in the fact that Kerry has spinal muscular atrophy and has been in a wheelchair for most of her 20 years, and it’s absolutely apparent that Kerry Walsh is a truly remarkable young woman!

 

She epitomises the 2018 Casual Day theme: Be an Everyday Hero with Persons with Disabilities. But Kerry, absolutely true to her modest nature, does not think of herself as heroic. “It’s just hard work, that’s all,” she says. “You don’t need to be a genius or a millionaire to live the life you want. You just need determination to work hard. I don’t give up. I go for it and I get things done.”

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How does Kerry define heroism, then? A hero, she says, is someone who makes doing things for others a part of their lives. “You have to think of other people, and what they need. It can’t always be about you. We all have a responsibility to change the world for the better.”

 

Kerry is extraordinarily aware of the inaccessibility of the world around her. “It’s just not designed or built for person with disabilities,” Kerry says. “And it’s in the little things: that tiny little step right next to the designated parking place that means you can park your car, but you can’t get your wheelchair into the shopping mall. That kind of stuff.”

 

But is Kerry sitting back and bemoaning her situation? Not a chance. “Most people never think about universal design because they don’t need to. It’s up to us: us persons with disabilities to reach out and take the time and trouble to educate others about what we need, and how to make things such as movies, shopping malls and school campuses accessible to everybody.”

 

Kerry Loves her motivational speaking work. It gives her a platform to encourage other young people to be the best they can be, and it gives her an audience, too, to deliver her message about the realities of being a person with a disability. “I encourage my audiences to think of what it would be like to struggle with the everyday things most people take for granted. In this way I’m creating awareness about the world of persons with disabilities. Awareness leads to action. I’m changing the world, one person at a time and one message at a time.”

 

Keep an eye on this young heroine. She’s going places. And she’s only just getting started!

About the Author

Able online

Hi, I’m Able the Casual Day mascot and ambassador for disability. I encourage you to see the ABILITY in people and not the dis-ABILITY. We’re all able, we can all live our fullest lives if the barriers are removed. Join me each year, on the first Friday of September and raise funds to support organisations that render services in the field of disability. This year Casual Day falls on Friday, 7 September. Your donation of R10 for a sticker makes a difference and improves lives all across South Africa.

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