IMPACT Community Services' graduate Sharon Bengtsson-Meehan has been named Equity VET Student of the Year and a Regional Finalist for the Darling Downs South West region in the Queensland Training Awards.
Although she completed her courses at IMPACT, the young graduate lives in Chinchilla. She will find out next week whether she will be the state's top trainee.
As a young teenager Sharon dreamt of becoming a diesel fitter or serving in the Army. But these dreams were shattered on December 28, 2012, when a driver affected by drugs smashed head-on into a car in which Sharon was a passenger. That crash claimed the life of Sharon’s mother, Sandra, and left the then-15 year old Sharon in a wheelchair.
As the driver serves his nine-year sentence, Sharon has begun the process of putting the pieces of her life back together. Her hopes of the Army and diesel fitting are gone, however the 22-year-old’s harrowing ordeal has opened her eyes to a world of new opportunities. She’s found from experience what a huge difference a good carer can make. So she decided to become one herself.
“I had a few bad experiences with carers where it seemed to be more about the money rather than helping,” Sharon said. “I thought ‘I know how hard it is to struggle and not to have your own voice'. The whole experience made me decide that I could get out there and make a real difference. There are things I am able to see that other people might not because of what I’ve been through.”
Initially Sharon was rejected by several training providers who did not have the facilities to accommodate her disability. Then she spoke to Elise Cottam, Individual Support trainer at IMPACT, who is a family friend of Sharon and her grandmother.
“Elise just said ‘let’s make this happen’,” Sharon said.
IMPACT's SQW Coordinator, Deniese, advocated on behalf of Sharon to have her included as a Community Work Skills participant and study with ‘no out of pocket expenses’ through the Queensland Government Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative.
“We are equipped to assist Sharon who is a determined young lady who is prepared to work hard to beat the odds,” Deniese said.
Sharon currently travels to the Bundaberg region with her one-year-old son, Theodore, and both stay with her grandmother while she trains.
“My Gran has Theodore and she just loves spending time with him,” Sharon said. “Unfortunately, my partner works a lot and so isn’t able to travel.”
As she prepared to go into the Vocational Placement element of her CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) training at IMPACT Community Services, Sharon said Elise had been amazing. Sharon is now armed with the skills she needs to help others.
“This isn’t what I thought I would do back when I was young,” Sharon said. “I want to do this and help.”
And now all her hard work is paying off as Sharon has been named a finalist in the Queensland Training Awards.
We want to congratulate Sharon on her awesome achievement. The awards celebrate the state's top training achievers. We’re keeping our fingers crossed Sharon can take out the top gong when the winners are announced in September.
For more information about IMPACT’s broad range of training services (RTO code 0115) call 4153 4233 or visit our training page.