I did it my way – Maria’s story

I did it my way – Maria’s story
Posted on Mon 2 Mar 2020

Written by Tina Wild

Maria is one of life’s great adventurers. Her wanderlust has taken her around the world – from Britain, to Alaska and Japan. She has represented Australia in sailing regattas and scaled the heights of Mount Kosciusko to raise fund for CPA. She’s a resourceful, independent force with a philosophy that “life is precious and you need to grab hold of it and live it your way.”  

Maria has been a client at CPA since she was two years old. It is where she received her education and therapy for cerebral palsy. She then started supported employment at a commercial workshop run by CPA, where she learned computer skills and met her husband, Lindsay, who also has cerebral palsy.  

The couple worked for years together until romance blossomed on a trip to Japan in the early 70s. The invitation had come directly from the Japanese government: the Japanese Spastic Society, who worked closely with the Spastic Centre of NSW (now CPA), visited our centre and were impressed by how people with severe disabilities could be successfully employed.

Maria accepts her disability, as she knows no different life, being born with cerebral palsy. Yet she became aware of her difference when she was six years old, when she participated in fundraising campaigns for the then Spastic Centre, and was featured in short films depicting the lives of children with cerebral palsy.

“I cried later when watching these films, as I had not realised to what extent I was affected by cerebral palsy,” she says.

 

Maria’s career prospects developed in November 1990, when she was asked to take part in a pilot scheme which placed people with disabilities in employment in the community. At first, she was reluctant to leave the protective environment of CPA. Her main concern was people not accepting or not taking the time to understand her affected speech.

But Maria’s independent spirit compelled her to push herself and take the opportunity. She took the plunge and started work at North Ryde RSL Club as part of the pilot, undertaking administrative duties and marketing. She never looked back, and ended up working there for 18 years in many different capacities!

“Working at the North Ryde RSL Club helped me to be more independent. For the first time in my life, I was responsible for myself. It taught me to speak for myself, and for once, people saw me as a person before my disability.”

 

Maria and Lindsay have always lived life to the full, knowing that as they aged they would likely become less active and independent. After going to a “come and try” day at Sailability, a world-wide organisation that provides sailing opportunities for people with disabilities, they were hooked! They joined Sailability Pittwater, and for many years both worked as volunteers on its committee and participated in international sailing regattas, as well as enjoying many overseas holidays and adventures.

As their mobility decreases with age, Maria and Lindsay have discovered a new hobby and newfound independence in technology.

“We both are computer buffs and spend many hours at our computers. We love doing jigsaws, a pastime we could never do before computers as our hands were not steady enough. Computers have given us much more independence. Now we can order a pizza or a Chinese meal online without having to ask someone to ring and order for us.”

 

Maria was inspired to write a book about her incredible life so she could tell people the positive side to living with cerebral palsy and what can be achieved. Entitled Don’t Tell Me I Can’t, the book is an insight into Maria’s determination to live a life of adventure and grab opportunities. 

“I wrote my book to tell people life is precious, to live life your way and to make people more aware that it is possible for people with cerebral palsy to have a rewarding life.

“I especially want parents with young babies or children to read my book to know it is possible to lead a fulfilling life while living with cerebral palsy and just what can be achieved,” says Maria

 

Don’t Tell Me I Can’t by Maria Dalmon can be purchased for $20 + $5 postage (NSW), email mdalmon@hotmail.com 

 

Contact our customer service consultants to discover how we can support you to live your best life.

Uni student Marge is working towards her fitness goals with exercise physiologist Russell. Sessions have been conducted  via Telepractice during COVID and Marge is keen to continue this in combination with in-person.

Our new virtual fundraising challenge, Take20, is a way to challenge yourself, get creative and help people living with CP


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