Media/‘I was bullied at school because of my disability and it’s not OK’

‘I was bullied at school because of my disability and it’s not OK’

Young Western Sydney resident celebrated for her passion to tackle bullying in schools

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‘I was bullied at school because of my disability and it’s not OK’
 
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The passion and dedication of a young resident from the Parramatta area who is determined to stamp out bullying of kids with a disability, is being celebrated in the lead up to National Volunteer Week (12-18 May).

21 year old Natalie Daoud, who has cerebral palsy, has spent the last four years relaying her real life story of schoolyard bullying to students across NSW.

She is a volunteer presenter with Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s Just Like You! program run in primary schools, and is about to join its Social Inc program which aims to foster social inclusion in high schools.

Natalie says volunteering for both programs is a way to help ensure other kids with a disability don’t endure the same playground torment she did.

‘Sadly, my school years were not the happiest as I was badly bullied and excluded for as long as I can remember, particularly during primary school’, Natalie said. ‘My cerebral palsy meant I couldn’t do everything that everyone else could, which made me an easy target at school.

‘But bullying and exclusion is not OK. It is really important that students learn from a young age that people with a disability are the same as everyone else. Volunteering for these two school-based programs and telling my story will hopefully help foster a culture of social inclusion and acceptance so other kids with a disability don’t go through what I did.’

Natalie also uses the power of social media, via a blog, a video posted on last year’s World CP Day and her facebook page (facebook.com/nataliedaoud) to tell her story and raise disability awareness.

She is one of 2,400 volunteers who contribute a total of 30,000 hours each year providing much needed support for Cerebral Palsy Alliance. Tasks range from supporting therapy services to maintenance, office, IT and technology roles – all of which save Cerebral Palsy Alliance an estimated $1.035 million each year (than if the roles were to be paid ones).

Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s Volunteer and Corporate Engagement Manager, Peter Horsley, says volunteers are often highly skilled people wanting to give something back to the community.

‘Volunteers are an integral part of our workforce and enable us to provide more services to more people than we could otherwise afford to’, Peter said. ‘Our volunteers are varied in background and skills – from professionals to retirees and students – united by a common drive to help people in need.

‘National Volunteer Week is a time for us to publicly thank each and every one of our volunteers, like Natalie, and encourage others who have a few hours to spare to think about joining us.’

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer with Cerebral Palsy Alliance can contact the Volunteer Team at volunteer@cerebralpalsy.org.au or (02)9975 8742.                                                                                   

Released on 1 May 2014