A Year to Remember

By Scott on January 7th, 2024

Scott on a beach in Australia.

Well it’s 2024. I think 2023 was the best year of my life so far. I’m hoping 2024 will be just as good. I know there are some terrible things happening in the world and that really is hard to handle. However, we need to continue our efforts to live a healthy and enjoyable life. It’s important to our wellbeing. For me, 2023 was the best year of my life. I had some unfortunate moments but overall it was a great year. I graduated high school with a Dogwood diploma (an academic diploma) and was accepted to all the universities that I applied to attend. I hope my elementary school teachers are aware of this. Most thought that was impossible. Most thought that I was not able to do it. I’m so happy to prove them wrong and hopefully they will be more optimistic about other students in the future. I also had my first ever paid presentation. Which was awesome. It really helped me understand more about how to work as a presenter and not just volunteer. Presentations are hard work and I appreciate the opportunity to get my first paycheque. I had a great summer, a wonderful time back skiing, lots of great times with friends. But the best part of 2023 was my trip to Australia.

Australia was awesome. I absolutely loved everything. Ok, I love Canada. But I will say Australia really has lots of what I like about living. What I mean is awesome beaches, great food, cool events, and many of my friends (new and old) live there. I had so much fun and unforgettable experiences. I felt so relaxed. Maybe because I was on vacation but I think it was because I just felt so welcomed. Not once did I feel like I was treated like a child because of being disabled. This was just my experience and I obviously don’t want to say it is what others have experienced. But it was what I experienced and it felt great. I know accessibility can be a problem in Australia. Take a train or walk downtown Melbourne to find access for mobility aids is sometimes not just bad, but missing altogether. I encountered many places where we noticed how wheelchair access was just not good enough. Hopefully some of the areas that were newer and had wonderful infrastructure will continue to grow.

So I think my trip was probably the best possible graduation gift I could have received. I still don’t believe it happened. I think it actually was what I needed to prove to myself that I am able to go see the world. What I mean is I can do what I want to do. I can pursue my dreams. I have been afraid that I might not be able to, that I was not ready. But I was able to do things I thought I could not do and I was able to do it without much anxiety. I was so relieved that I made it to Australia that all my fears just vanished. I was able to enjoy myself without worrying. It felt awesome.

In Australia I went all over the place. I covered a large area by plane, train, boat and car. I stayed in hotels, homes and motels. I ate fine dining and fast food. I saw all kinds of animals close up in wildlife parks and in nature. I went to a concert and a hot spring. I saw Robert Irwin and met some cool friends. I tried Vegemite and Lammingtons. I went to a beach in every city I stayed. I think that Australia is where I found myself. I found the person who has been hidden behind walls of work and advocacy. I still am the advocate, the writer but I’m much more than that and Australia was the place I discovered the other pieces of me. I’m so grateful my parents worked so hard to get us there, that my friends opened their home to us and took us on amazing adventures, that my new friends were so welcoming and fun.

2023 I will miss you. 2024 get ready, I am up for the challenge to make this my best year yet. Happy New Year and hoping everyone has a awesome year ahead.