March 29th, 2021Peter Waters: Running his own race
There’s a remarkable tenacity about Peter. Despite never being able to run, let alone walk his entire life, nothing, he says, will hold him back from living his life to the full.
“When you are given life then you have to live it. We all have problems but it’s how we handle them. I’m happiest when I am around people and helping in any way,” he said.
“I have to keep busy and I believe when you live in a community you have to be a part of it and contribute however you can.”
Cerebral palsy is a physical disability that affects movement and posture. Every 20 hours, an Australian child is born with cerebral palsy. It’s the most common physical disability in childhood.
Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term for a group of disorders – a condition that is permanent, but not unchanging according to the Australian Cerebral Palsy Alliance.
It’s hard to believe Peter has lived in Hepburn Springs for only seven months. Catching up for an interview in Daylesford was a three-hour experience, simply because of the number of people stopping by to say ‘hi’ to this charismatic, and often cheeky bloke.
But there is a serious side and one that has driven him for years. Educating others.
“I studied at the Yooralla School in Melbourne and then went to high school where I finished year 11. I really did muck around before completing a Community Development diploma and then found my passion in educating people about the issues affecting people living with a disability,” he said.
Peter is now a resident at Hepburn House. At 51 he is a tad younger than many of the residents. But if you assume that he’d rather be living independently and not in an aged care facility, you’d be mistaken.
“I am so well treated and cared for. The staff always help me stay motivated and connected. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
For Peter, joining clubs like Rotary and contributing to the community keeps him going. He certainly doesn’t want his disability to define him.
When Peter suggested to the Hepburn House manager that he wanted to join a community group, the Rotary Club of Daylesford was contacted. Rotarian Jenny Hopkins met Peter at Hepburn House and that evening he was at his first meeting.
“It wasn’t long before we realised his capacity to organise. Such enthusiasm.” Jenny said.
“He is continually coming up with new ideas and ways for Rotary to support the community. Even before he officially became a member, he arranged a successful dinner meeting for the club. This community is very fortunate to have Peter,” she said.
To date Peter has delivered more than 3000 talks to community groups and schools. He hopes to continue to do so here.
In 2012 Peter embarked on a 12-day ride from Sydney to Melbourne to raise money for Variety – the Children’s Charity and the Lions Children’s Mobility Foundation. With a donated scooter to handle the trip and plenty of determination, Peter averaged 100 kilometres a day and raised a remarkable $35,000.
Now Peter is looking for more groups to join and people to meet.
“I need to keep busy and active. I love to educate people so I would be happy to give talks or get involved with other groups in the area and give my time. I just want to get out there and live,” he said.
“I simply love being involved. I need structure and hate feeling stagnated so being involved in the community is so rewarding. For me it’s about always doing my best. And that’s got me where I am today.
“I just won’t let anything become a barrier. Nothing can stop me from trying and I will never give up.”
Fellow Rotary member Chris Soper said the contribution he has made to the club and town to date is certainly evidence that Peter is a man who refuses to give up.
If schools or community groups would like to engage Peter to hear one of his talks or if you are part of a group that you think Peter might like to join, you can reach him by phoning Hepburn House or email email@example.com
Words & image: Narelle Groenhout