GIVING BACK: Inspired by her brother who has Autism, Kahlia Higgins is a volunteer special needs teacher at Clinton State School.
GIVING BACK: Inspired by her brother who has Autism, Kahlia Higgins is a volunteer special needs teacher at Clinton State School. Paul Braven

Inspirational teen: ‘why I help people with disabilities’

WHEN she was 18 Gladstone resident Kahlia Higgins worked out what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.

"Next please," she called, as she had 50 times already that day.

It was just another day at her part-time position at the Reject Shop, as she placed a small pack of pencils into the customer's grocery bag, when it dawned on her.

Growing up with a brother who lives with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Kahlia understands the hardship and difficulties that children and families affected by disabilities face on a daily basis.

Now she is studying Certificate 3 in disability services through the Central Queensland University TAFE program.

The program allows her to volunteer her services at any school that has a special education unit. She volunteers at Clinton State School.

Kahlia said because of her experience growing up with someone with a disability, she wanted to contribute her knowledge and understanding back into the community.

"Seeing first-hand how my brother was affected by his disability at a young age, I wanted to see if I can help others like him overcome the hardships associated with a disorder or disability," she said.

Kahlia said her brother had high-functioning autism.

But because of educational assistance and disability services when he was young, she says "you wouldn't even be able to tell that he suffered from a disability at all".

"I'm so proud of him. He's come such a long way," she said.

Kahlia said she wanted to help children move past their disabilities and live a life of achievements.

"I know I am young and I have to start somewhere, but by studying this course and volunteering at local schools I will hopefully be able to make a small change in someone's life," she said.

Kahlia hopes to build her own organisation promoting awareness and well-being for children affected by disabilities or disorders.


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