Tracey Jackson said she just loves her life. She’s out and about doing activities she never thought possible – shooting, travelling extensively and modelling for inclusive fashion house, Christina Stephens, and even providing feedback for more inclusive designs.
The 54-year-old Brisbane resident, who has Facioscapulohumeral (FSH) muscular dystrophy (MD), credits all these exciting opportunities to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding she receives, which supports her to achieve her goals.
“I’m extremely grateful for the support I get because now I can spend time doing the activities I want to do,” she said.
In 2012, Tracey broke her leg and became a full-time wheelchair user.
Then when a Muscular Dystrophy Queensland support coordinator asked if there was a hobby she wanted to do, she surprised everyone, asking to do drag racing or shooting.
Fast forward a few months and Tracey found herself at a ‘Come and Try’ day, at a shooting range with the Australian Paralympic shooting team.
“I picked up a rifle and shot it perfectly,” she said.
“The Paralympic shooting coach was standing behind me. After my shoot he approached me and asked if I would like to consider shooting full-time professionally.
“12 months later, I was on the Australian Paralympic shooting team, travelling Australia and the world, shooting. I just love it. I’ve got bucket loads of medals; I’ve had so many wonderful experiences, and gained so many new friends right around the world,” she said.
“Shooting just changed me. 10 years ago I was that person who sat in the back of the room. I didn’t say anything to anybody. I didn’t want to be known. I just hated attention.
“Then I got to travel to various shooting events where we all had a disability. None of us looked at each other as different, we were all just people together in a room.
“When I looked at them, I thought you’ve got fantastic lives, and I’ve come into that life.”
While Tracey missed out by one on getting a place on team, travelling to the Rio Paralympics, she said she wasn’t upset.
“I was thankful I got the chance to just do it, and I’d achieved more than I had ever expected,” she said.
Now driven to achieve, Tracey continues to live a busy life advocating for women with disability.
She’s taken up modelling and providing feedback to an inclusive clothing range, which she says helps women with disability dress independently with less fatigue.
“People without disability don’t realise we like to dress independently if we can. They also don’t realise if clothing is difficult to get on at the start of our day, it increases our fatigue and it can mean the difference between a good and a bad day,” she said.
“Also, I want something made to wear that suits me and keeps me comfortable. I particularly love their pants because the design has an extra-long waist so when I’m sitting in my wheelchair all day they don’t crawl down and leave my lower back exposed.”
Tracey said while she’s been extremely busy, all these experiences have been wonderful.
“I keep thinking this would never have happened if it hadn’t of been for shooting. I can honestly say that. I just love my life at the moment,” she said.