By Jocelynne McCann & Sharon Dymock
I have an Amazing Life!
Jocelynne lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She spent her early years in various types of supported accommodation, group homes and foster families. Jocelynne also attended sheltered workshops and activities over the years but never felt a sense of belonging. Shortly after her 21st birthday she moved into a home of her own. Today she has many wonderful friends, is well respected in her church community and has her own small business, “Dried Fruit by Jocelynne.”
My name is Jocelynne and live in Adelaide, South Australia. I moved into my own home shortly after my 21st birthday. I really enjoy living in my own place. It gives me lots of freedom and privacy. I have a great support network including family, friends, neighbours and support workers. I enjoy travelling, going to the movies and working out at my local gym. I love cooking and going out to restaurants and cafes, my favourite cuisines are seafood and Indian. I love life and all it has to offer!
I was born in 1969 at Canberra Hospital in the Australian Capital Territory. My birth was complicated by the rubella virus and as a result, I was born with an intellectual disability. I’m also visually and hearing impaired.
I moved to Adelaide, South Australia, when I was young and spent most of my early years in various types of supported accommodation, group homes and foster families. I also lived with my Nan during some of this time. These places would turn out to be some of the happiest and worst times of my life. I experienced the warmest of love and the most horrific abuse. It took many years for me to learn to trust again. This sort of exclusion from the life you were born to live, is so damaging. My potential, abilities and skills were not recognised or utilised.
A big part of inclusion, to me, means feeling like you belong and being treated with kindness and respect. I have attended many sheltered workshops, activities and classes over the years. I didn’t feel a sense of belonging, I was just there. No one really spoke to me and I wasn’t part of the group. I’m not sure anyone would have even noticed if I was not there the next week! To be included and feel like you belong, people should care enough to notice if you’re there. You must feel valued and like you matter!
It has been a difficult journey at times. I continue to fight negative thoughts everyday, but I’m a strong and resilient woman. I intend to live a wonderful life to the best of my ability. I have overcome many barriers and believe with hard work and the support of great friends and family, anything is possible!
Today I am living proof of that. I have an amazing life! I have many wonderful friends and my own small business. I love to travel and have been lucky enough to go overseas with friends and visit some amazing places. I lead a very full and inclusive life and I’m making beautiful new memories every day. That is important to me because everything we do and experience makes us who we are. We each have unique abilities and gifts, and to me, '' inclusion'' means having the opportunity to share them.
Being part of my local community has given me the chance to do this and to share life with others. I am very proud of my role as a “Welcomer” at St. Mary’s Church. Once a month on a Sunday, I greet all the parishioners on their arrival at the Church. As part of my role, I also collect gifts offered by the parishioners and present them to Father William. In the beginning, these roles were a little challenging because I really had to really focus. With the support of my worker, a fellow Welcomer and most importantly, the unconditional acceptance from the Church community, I began to settle into my new role. I have been doing this for quite a few months now and I’m really enjoying it! I no longer need the support of a worker and love being a part of the Church community.
I have made many friends at Church. I have developed a very special friendship with Helen who has become an important part of my life. Helen and I meet up regularly for lunch or go on outings together. She has also become a part of my circle, made up of the wonderful people in my life who choose to be by my side and help to guide me through life.
Another role I am very proud of, is my role as a small business owner. I found it difficult to find meaningful employment and sheltered workshops did not appeal to me. I had more to offer and wanted to explore different options. I have a great love of food and really wanted to do something that would enable me to combine my love of food, meeting new people and flexibility in the workplace. So when we heard about the Micro Enterprise Project (MEP) at Community Living Project, it seemed like the perfect alternative. We spoke with a facilitator from the MEP and I was accepted to be a part of the project. This was very exciting!
The MEP facilitator and I spent a lot of time talking. We also spoke with family and friends about different business ideas that would combine all the things I loved to do. One business idea was that I could sell fresh fruit packaged in beautiful gift baskets or boxes. This would involve creating the fruit baskets or boxes for customers to purchase, hand delivering them, taking orders for special occasions and marketing. I hired a personal assistant, Traci, who worked with me in my business. I also formed a MEP advisory board to help steer me in the right direction. Unfortunately, in the beginning it didn’t go quite as well as we had hoped but it eventually lead us in the right direction. We went back to the drawing board and after many more discussions, I decided to go with dried fruit instead. Traci and I gathered all the different types of fruits you could imagine! I purchased a small fruit drying machine and began to dry fruit, learning as I went along. Before long I mastered the art of fruit drying and everyone was really happy with the product. It was time for the taste test! The advisory board, friends and family were all given samples of the product to try. The answer was the same for everyone, absolutely delicious! That’s how “Dried Fruit by Jocelynne” began.
It has now been four years since I started my business and things are going really well. Being part of the community and having a small business enables me to do the things I was born to do. It’s so rewarding. I have purpose in my life and I love my work. The best part of my business is being on the road, doing deliveries and meeting new people. It has been an awesome experience and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!