Fighting Chance

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The energy and drive required to create, develop and advance the work of Fighting Chance Australia spring from the vision, commitment and life experiences of two extraordinary young Australians, sister-and-brother team Laura and Jordan O’Reilly.

Both still in their 20s, Laura and Jordan grew up with a younger brother, Shane O’Reilly, who was very severely disabled with cerebral palsy from his birth in 1989 and who died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2011, aged just 21.

Children with severe physical and/or intellectual disabilities have intensive care and support needs that often place crushing pressures on families, with the result that life can be, and often is, very difficult for non-disabled siblings. Resentments can build, and family trauma and breakdown in such circumstances are common.

But equally, growing up with a severely disabled brother or sister can sensitise siblings to the struggles, dreams and innate human worth of people with disabilities, making them more compassionate and inspiring them to dedicate their lives to the pursuit of social justice, inclusion and a good life for all those with disabilities.

Such has been the case with Laura and Jordan O’Reilly, whose deep love for their brother led them to the work they now do with Fighting Chance. The pair are committed to changing the face of the disability sector in Australia, in Shane’s memory and in his honour.

As well as working together to establish Fighting Chance’s innovative, computer-based pilot employment project for people with physical disabilities, in the northern Sydney suburb of Brookvale, Laura and Jordan are both also currently studying at university. A graduate from Cambridge University, Laura is now undertaking a postgraduate Law degree at the University of NSW, while Jordan is in his final year of Occupational Therapy at the University of Sydney.

Do you know of a school, community organisation, service club or disability support group whose members would benefit from hearing about Laura and Jordan’s experiences, work and visions for the future of Australians with disability? If so, request a presentation by contacting laura@fightingchance.org.au