ACARES x Kirrily Hayward – Disability, Housing and LGBTI Activist/Advocate
In the spirit of International Women’s Day, the ACARES team had the pleasure of hosting Kirrily Haywood, a 30 year old Disability, Housing and LGBTI Activist/Advocate (whoa what a mouthful!). Kirrily’s talk touched everyone’s hearts and reminded us why we do what we do – to work inclusively with individuals to help them achieve their unique goals and live a holistic life.
Kirrily was born with spina bifida (a neural tube defect of the spine) and has used a wheelchair since the tender age of 9. She shared stories about her early years growing up with a disability, her small close-knit friendship circle and how she dealt with being an outcast at school facing both verbal and, on occasion, physical forms of bullying. Kirrily found that as she got older and transitioned into University, things started to change for her and she became more comfortable with herself and her sexuality. Unfortunately after becoming quite ill and spending months in hospital, Kirrily found herself transitioning into an Aged Care facility in Geelong (currently it houses 150 residents of which approximately 12 are young people with disabilities). Despite living in a facility at such a young age, Kirrily has turned such a challenge into a way of speaking of on behalf of and raising awareness for young people living in nursing homes.
Kirrily has found that her involvement with the LGBTIQ and disability communities empowered her to be an independent and fierce individual. She is well-recognised in the Geelong community and was an integral part Geelong’s campaign for marriage equality. Using her respected public standing Kirrily continues to advocate for LGBTIQ people with a disability through the “In Bed Project” and heavily promotes ‘rainbow’ rallies for the community.
Most recently, Kirrily was presented with the Adovacy Award at the Geelong Awards for People with a Disability (go Kirrily!).