Leif and Coulter Barstad (North West, TAS)

 Lief Barstad

Leif -- I moved from Montana in the USA with my family to live in Tasmania.

Since finishing school I now have two jobs. I work as an Administration Assistant at Ability Tasmania and as a Library Aide at Ulverstone Central Primary school on the North West Coast of Tasmania. I work 20 hours a week, and also help my mum and dad with work on our farm.

I do a lot of different jobs and love the social interaction work gives me, the sense of worth, and of course, the money!

Coulter -- My name is William Colter Barstad. I am 15 years old and I go to St. Brendan Shaw College. I am one of three brothers. The middle brother, my older brother, Leif has a disability called Down Dyndrome. This disability affects his mental and physical capabilities however this disability shouldn't be considered an inability.

Lief got a job at Ulverstone Primary school and the school staff have commended him for his ability to work. He generates income. He helps and contributes to the community. 

My brother is an inspiration to me, The fact that he has the ability to work and achieve regardless of his disability impresses me. Many recognise that Leif works without complaining about the job task he is set.

I'm sure many parents have a teenage daughter or son that they may have had to scold about cleaning their room because it is messy or dirty. For me it’s like, “Coulter, your room is a pigsty!"  Leif's room, however, is clean and organised and he doesn’t need to be told to clean it! For me it’s like, "Make your room more like Leif's!" Leif is very organised and it is his decision, not our parents, for him to clean his room. Of course, I occasionally try to bribe my brother with chocolates to clean my room, but to no avail.

On the social side, many people think kids with Down Syndrome, or any disability, are quite weird or strange. I have personally seen this reaction from people including my friends. When my friends first came to my house they were shocked to see Leif and reacted differently towards him. However, after a short period of time they all treated him like any other person —  playing games and watching movies with him. Frequently my family have been walking down the street in Devonport, Ulverstone or Burnie and people will walk up to Leif and say hello to him because they know him from school or work, and it is very heartwarming too see people treat him this way.

To get to the point, anyone who says people with disability have an inability to work or be successful are wrong and need to expand their view on the issue. My brother Leif is a perfect example of someone who contributes to the community, generates income and is accepted by many people whether they are past school mates, work mates or my friends. He is accepted. He works hard and makes a positive impact and no one can take that away from him.