Carolina Ascui is a young woman who’s travelled around the country playing the sport she loves, Boccia.

In this article, for International Women’s Day, Carolina shares some advice for people about interacting with those who have a disability, she says access has a way to go, especially in her home town, and she shares her message to other women.

Carolina recalls that sport was not something she always felt confident to do.

‘At primary school and high school I sometimes felt like I was being pushed back,’ she said, while acknowledging many teachers did encourage her to be involved.

Carolina was born with Spina Bifida and became partially blind when she was about nine. Aged around 15 Carolina developed Epilepsy.

‘So, I’m totally blind in one eye, but can see with my other eye. And now with my Epilepsy I don’t have many fits, maybe one or two a year, where it was originally about one a day.’

Becoming involved in sport through New Horizons Tasmania led Carolina to the game of Boccia.

Boccia can be played by individuals, pairs, or teams of three. The aim of the game is to throw leather balls – coloured red or blue as close as they can to a white target ball, or jack.

What does Carolina love about Boccia?

‘Just the fact that you play by Paralympic standards, you see the serious side of it – the social side is good too.’

The serious side means Carolina (pictured below) is coached in the sport once a week, as part of a group of nine players. She’s competed in State Titles in New South Wales, Queensland, the ACT and Tasmania.

As a frequent traveller, Carolina has encountered some airport staff who could do with some advice – including talking directly to someone who has a disability, not someone else who might be with them.

‘It’s like, “hello, I’m the customer here”’.

This has happened to Carolina in shops too, but the good news is she finds most people friendly and helpful.

She believes access is something that does have a way to go, particularly around here home town of Launceston, where there are many old buildings.

‘When it comes to heritage listing of buildings, access should overrule the heritage. Putting a ramp in doesn’t change the building all that much, but it means so much to wheelchair users.’

When asked what message Carolina has for other women, she replied:

‘Make sure that no one pushes you back – make sure you push yourself forward.’