Rosemary Gordon, 14, looks after her entire family – all of whom have disabilities. Now she’s spreading the love even further by taking on a mentor role with group Siblings in Focus.
Rosemary Gordon could be forgiven for not always having a rosy outlook on life – but the reality is quite the opposite.
The Reynella East College student has had to grow up faster than other teenagers in order to help look after her five family members – all of whom have disabilities.
“They have quite complex needs, so it’s been challenging,” Rosemary, 14, says of her caring role.
“I’ve learnt to be more independent and people say I’m quite mature for my age.”
Her father Craig is blind as is her brother, Eddie, who also has epilepsy.
Mum Emma suffers from a chronic illness, sister Rebecca has an intellectual disability and her other sister, Milly, has autism.
“I’m always helping my sisters make calls for appointments and dad needs help with simple things like catching a bus, reading and turning the oven or microwave on,” Rosemary says. “We are all very close though and I love helping them.”
But three years ago, when life was consumed by her family’s needs, Rosemary needed an outlet to talk things over with people who understood.
That is when she heard about Siblings in Focus – a program run by Junction and AnglicareSA to support young people whose siblings have disabilities.
“It’s a place you can go to have a break, talk about stuff that’s going on at home, but also to have fun and make new friends who are going through the same things,” Rosemary says.
The aspiring psychologist is now undertaking a volunteer mentoring role as part of the program.
“I was reaching the end of the group’s age limit but didn’t want to leave, so the person who runs it, Tanya, suggested being a mentor and I instantly said ‘yes’,” Rosemary says.
“So now I’ll be helping people who are in the same position as me, because I know exactly how they are feeling.”