Paralympian Karni encourages Peas to drop the fight

Kate and Mandy talk to Karni, a Paralympian swimmer, TV presenter, mum to a four-year-old son and a social worker specialising in family violence experienced by people with disabilities.

 

Karni was born with a neuromuscular wasting disease called congenital titonpathy and uses a wheelchair. Karni started swimming for Australia as a Paralympian when she was only twelve years old, and loved finding a community where she felt ‘in the majority’ with the opportunity to feel completely herself for the very first time.

 

Karni talks about the many intrusive and inappropriate questions she received while pregnant with her son, and way she adapted to caring for her baby and the enjoyment she gained by finally experiencing motherhood – despite still receiving intrusive questions about her capabilities.

 

Karni discusses her experience of being ordered off a Dreamworld ride due to a medical clearance issue, forcing her to leave her 3-year- old son alone on the ride. She talks about the ‘misconception of risk’ that people with disabilities are often beholden to in unfair and discriminatory ways. 

 

The three talk about the exhaustion of the ‘fight mode’. Karni encourages all Peas to ‘turn the fight switch off’ where they can, and be present with their peashoots, rather than worrying about all the many future fights ahead. On the other hand, Karni encourages all abled-bodied people to ‘turn the fight switch up’ and play a greater role in challenging ableist behavior when they see it. 

 

Karni also reflects on the ‘just a healthy baby’ line, which she begun to hear regularly in her 30s when her friends were having babies. Watch the Ted Talk she did on the topic!

  

Other Pea Business

 

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