World MS Day

Written on the 31 May 2017

World MS Day

 

World MS Day, held each year on the last Wednesday of May, recognises an important and significant group of people in our communities. Approximately 2.3 million people worldwide have Multiple Sclerosis, it is one of the most common neurological disorders and causes of disability in young adults. It is also likely that hundreds of thousands more individuals remain undiagnosed, highlighting the importance of days such as today that help to spread awareness and understanding of MS.

The cause of MS is not yet known, and there is no known cure, but this has not stopped Community Living Australia Board member Mike Galea from being an active participant in the disability sector for over 30 years. Mike was diagnosed with MS over 30 years ago, and since then has been a Board member for the MS Society, the Royal Society for the Blind and is also an Australian representative on the world stage as an Access consultant and educator in Access.

Mike has also had significant community involvement, including as a Board member of the Scout Association of SA, where his interest in Community Living Australia was first sparked. "As part of the Board for Community Living Australia, the main goal is always to provide our clients with the best possible services, and all of us on the Board are constantly thinking outside of the square for ways to do this," said Mike. "I work with great people, we are always coming up with new and innovative ideas to support our clients as they navigate through the NDIS," Mike added.

Of his experience with MS, Mike said "Multiple Sclerosis is experienced differently by each diagnosed individual, and people with MS are generally more than capable of getting on with their lives as independently as possible. Often the greatest barrier for people with MS is the ability to obtain and retain a job, however I believe that support and encouragement for people with MS or any other disabilities to participate actively in their communities will help to break down this barrier."

Although he experienced challenges in job opportunities early in his diagnosis, Mike has now been successfully running his own environmentally-friendly and access-focused architecture business for a number of years. Mike said that his positive attitude has played a big part in the mild nature of his symptoms, despite being diagnosed with MS decades ago. Mike also continues to pursue his passion for sailing on a regular basis. "I think it is crucial for people living with MS to continue pursuing their goals and interests after diagnosis, we have the same right as everyone else to participate and be valued members of our communities," said Mike.

With his involvement on the Board of Community Living Australia, and with the NDIS rolling out and becoming an integral part of the lives of people with disabilities, Mike said: "It's going to really increase the level of choice and control people with disability have in their lives and we as an organisation will be their trusted partner working with them to develop services that meet their individual needs."


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