On International Day of People with Disability, Oliver has a message for all Australians

Art Artist disability inspiration NDIS

Adelaide man Oliver Mills may be non-verbal, but he has found other ways to express how he feels about the way people react to him and his disability.

Mr Mills, who lives with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and vision impairment, spoke to the ABC through a variety of methods and devices, including a speech-generating device with a digital voice and a book with symbols and words.

He can hunch his shoulders and use his voice for a "yes" or look to his right and make an "o" shape with his mouth for a "no".

He also expresses himself through artwork, design and poetry.

And this week a symbol he created is being seen all around Australia.

The 33-year-old was commissioned to do the artwork for the lapel pin for today's International Day of People with Disability (IDPWD) — a pin that today is being worn by thousands of people across the country.

"It's an awesome and excellent opportunity," Mr Mills said.

"This is a very special and important project to me and I'm proud that I can show Australia what people with disability are capable of."

Oliver Mills with his mother Kerri and father Maurice, who is holding one of Oliver's creations.
Oliver Mills with his mother Kerri and father Maurice, who is holding one of Oliver's creations.(

ABC News: Haidarr Jones 

)
The International Day of People with a Disability pin
Oliver's pin. It is being worn by thousands of people across Australia today.(

ABC News

)

Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects muscle movement and verbal communication, but Mr Mills says it "doesn't mean I can't think or communicate in other ways or have hopes and dreams".

Mr Mills said people often thought he could not see or hear them talking about him.

"I understand everything people say," he said. "People ignore me, children stare."

"I want people to see me, talk to me and hear me."

Mr Mills said while his epileptic seizures often got in the way of the things he wanted to achieve, he could do anything he set his mind to.

"I have lots of up and down days," he said.

"I write about it a lot with my poetry."

Working with him for the past six months has been art mentor Jock Walker, who assists Oliver with specially designed holders for paintbrushes and charcoals.

"Jock helps me to be as independent as I can with my art," Mr Mills said.

"He sometimes makes crazy contraptions with lots of brushes to attach to my brush holder and I think this is awesome."

A man holding art work and a man in a wheelchair smiling
Jock Walker (left) says being Oliver's art mentor has made him "more excited" about the meaning of creativity.(

ABC News: Haidarr Jones 

)

Mr Walker said working with Oliver helped him understand people were able to do whatever they wanted to.

"Ollie's got a very challenging situation and he makes the most of that and he's making some really exciting artwork," he said.

"It's made me more excited about art and more optimistic about how art can help people be more confident with identity and existence in the rest of the wider world."

On International Day of People with Disability, Mr Mills said he wanted people to look at him and see what was possible.

"I want people to stop expecting that I can't do things and instead start expecting that there is more to me than just my disability," he said.

Source: ABC


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