Brianna has vision for a bright future

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Vision impaired student Brianna Merema, 17, was one of the recent winners of the Heywire writing competition.
Camera IconVision impaired student Brianna Merema, 17, was one of the recent winners of the Heywire writing competition. Credit: Jakeb Waddell.

Living with a serious disability in a regional town while fending off bullies and dealing with the normal pressures of being at school may be enough to break some young girls.

But for Broome Senior High School student Brianna Merema, below, her struggles have helped carve the pathway to her future.

The Year 12 student was diagnosed with glaucoma at a young age and her vision has deteriorated rapidly since the age of 10.

Brianna was forced to miss a lot of school for multiple operations and was bullied by her peers for her differences.

Despite the obstacles, the 17-year-old has managed to stay on top of her studies as much as possible and is aiming to get a TAFE and university degree to eventually have a career in youth support.

Brianna turned her own life events into a story, which became one of the winning entries in this year’s ABC Heywire contest, giving her the chance to meet with other regional Australians in Canberra last month to discuss issues facing people in rural areas and make a pitch for a new idea in Parliament.

Her attention has quickly turned back to her schoolwork and she is undergoing assessments in her vocational education studies.

Brianna said she was excited for her future.

“I struggled a lot in school because I wasn’t going in patches, so I always felt behind and when I was there, I was bullied and always relying on the help of assistants,” she said. “This all gave me my idea for my Heywire entry, as the competition has to be about a short story on something that you have done or an experi-ence.”

“My story was about somebody who struggled with vision impairment and had to have several operations, but wanted to try new things and didn’t want to be held back, just like me.

“I don’t often think about it as “proud of myself” but when I think about what I have done I think I am—I’m just glad I can advocate for myself in the blind community.”

Brianna has received support services from Perth-based organisation VisAbility since birth and worked with education assistant Kelly Stratton dur-ing her five years at BSHS.

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