Ivan & Cameron - Part 1

Uploaded by AttitudeTV on 03.10.2010

Today we push the limits of two young men both born with physical disabilities.
When Cameron and Ivan met they found they had a lot they could learn from each other.
Hi I’m Ivan Parsons and I’m 17 years old.
G’day I’m Cameron Leslie and I’m 20 years old.
I live at home with my parents.
I live in a student flat and basically I do what I want when I want.
Girls – ummm, not too interested in me at the moment.
I’ve had my fair share of girlfriends along the way.
Ivan Parsons is about to finish school. The next step is to leave home but he’s not
sure how he’ll cope.
Cameron Leslie’s a uni student and a Paralympian gold medalist. He knows how to achieve goals
and he’s eager to help Ivan. They’ve planned a boys trip – a bit of skiing, a bit of
fun and a chance to brainstorm Ivan’s bid for independence.
Being a young man with a disability it’s more about being…it’s an acceptance thing
I feel, it’s accepting that you’re disabled and that’s beside the point, I’m a young
man and I’m going to be a man for the rest of my life so you’ve kind of got to take
on that persona and to find a way to make it work for you I guess.
Ivan’s life began in Russia. His early years were a world apart from Cameron’s babyhood.
Born with obvious disabilities Ivan was subjected to Russian law, which dictated children with
disabilities, be raised in institutions.
I was taken away from my parents due to me having a disability and put in an orphanage.
Ivan spent more than a year in a crowded orphanage before fate took a turn.
A lady from New Zealand just came over and adopted me and we came over here and we were
put into a family and it was tough for a while as the adoptees changed their minds about
it and what actually happened was they asked my parents now to look after me for a while
while they sorted out what they were going to do and my parents now looked after me for
a while and they fell in love with me and adopted me.
Embraced by loving new parents Ivan developed into a confident little boy with a cheeky
grin and lots of spunk, they’ve been a happy family ever since. But as Ivan’s moved into
his teenage years his confidence has taken a dive. The thought of leaving the nest and
making a life on his own is daunting – truth be told he can’t cook or dress himself
and relies on others.
When you have somebody there to help you all the time you don’t exactly feel like you’re
a man I suppose and when you can do things for yourself it’s really encouraging and
like I said empowering.
A year ago Ivan shifted to a private school in the city. He’s away from his old mates,
it’s lonely.
It was hard to walk into a school every day and no one wanted to be your friend, sometimes
I didn’t want to get out of the car, just didn’t want to enter that atmosphere where
no one wanted to be friends or no one wanted to know you. The only people that wanted to
talk to you was your teachers. I’ll admit I probably smile on the outside; I make an
outer shell that’s nice and smiley but on the inside probably hurting quite a bit. It’s
difficult as well because all your mates are going out and getting girlfriends and stuff
like that and they’re going out to parties with them and you’re sort of left by yourself
– it’s hard.
Yeah it would be pretty fair to say that I’m not really too fussed on what other people
have to think about my disability and things like that, you take me for who I am.
Cameron’s a country boy. All the kids in the district knew him from the day he was
born; he was super comfortable with his disability. In the teenage years he became more self-conscious,
it was only then that he bothered getting prosthetic legs so he’d be able to stand
alongside his mates.
When I first went flatting it was a bit of a learning curve, I wasn’t quite ready to
be so into the world of cooking meals for yourself every single night of the week, especially
when you’ve only got one dish up your sleeve – yeah we’ve moved on from there and
now I’ve learnt a couple of other dishes and can cook a whole weeks meals for myself.
Roast veges would be my forte I guess.
With the ladies I guess I try and be myself, I don’t draw attention to my disability
because I don’t think it’s something I should have to tell, that shouldn’t be taken
into account. I guess I go OK, I’ve got not a bad track record, I’d say I’ve got
a pretty decent track record for someone my age…I hope.
Jumping in a car and being independent is huge, it makes a huge difference to me, it
means I can be in the places I want to be and I can go off and meet up with someone
where I want to so yeah let’s go for a drive.
I thought that Ivan being 17 years old I thought he would have taken a lot more ownership for
looking after himself, you know just little things like getting yourself dressed and making
breakfast, I thought he would not have allowed anyone else to do that for him. I know for
myself as a 17 year old I wouldn’t have let anyone else put my clothes on for me.
We’re going to Wanaka and all I know of it so far is that I’m going to meet Ivan
and we’re going to go down there and learn how to ski and teach him a few things about
looking after yourself and how to be a young man I guess – how to be a young man and
be proud of being a young man with a disability I guess – yeah basically become bros I guess
at the end of the week…I hope.
Ivan never travels alone, Tom’s a little like a personal assistant, he’s paid to
help Ivan shower, dress and get out the door on time.
I don’t know much about Cameron, I know he hasn’t skied before, I know he’s a
swimmer, I know he’s a gold medalist but that’s really all I know.
Quite keen to show Ivan/brainstorm with him ways he can do things for himself like dressing
yourself and things like that.
It could be really helpful but I’m also cautious because I don’t know… I mean
I understand he wants to help but I also understand that our disabilities are very different and
so the way he does something is different to the way I do it.
I don’t know, we’ll see if we can meet any ladies down there, see if we can strike
up a conversation and get comfortable talking to other people.
Cameron’s traveled the world for swimming competitions, he’s used to being on his
own and doing things for himself. For Ivan this is a rare trip away from home.
The first time I went away by myself I freaked out and wanted to go home, and I did. But
I think it’s all part of the stepping-stones to more independence.
How long since I’ve been away from home? I think seven months. I haven’t been away
since I went to ACDC in Wellington with Tom actually. Tom helps me and he’s my teacher
aide so we’re used to that kind of stuff now.
Cameron’s taking Ivan in hand – time to make a man out of him.
Now what are we making?
Beats me.
The supermarket. For Ivan it’s like a new frontier.
I suppose as a 17 year old I was kind of similar to Ivan in a way. I still was living at home
very reliant on mum and dad’s help for certain things, cooking being the main one.
How’s your peeling?
Interesting, I’ve never really done much peeling before. All right we’ll do it just
for the fun of it.
I definitely think I was probably a little bit more independent and things like that
but then again his disability is different to mine so it takes people different times
to adjust to their disabilitites I guess.
Make sure you grab ones that are easy to peel.
What would you describe as easy to peel?
Evenly shaped.
It was quite an interesting experience, Cameron knew a lot more than I did, Cameron flats
with other people now and he had to learn how to cook things and do things so I wasn’t
too surprised that he knew more than me when we were at the supermarket.
When we were in there and thinking about stuff for a salad it’s like “Oh what goes with
the salad”…Ummm lettuce, I don’t know some capsicums, a bit of this and a bit of
So you don’t actually cook many meals yourself do you? Do you cook very often?
No not at all to tell you the truth but this will be an interesting step.
You’ll be able to do it I reckon.
Oh yeah I’ll do it.
They’ve settled on chicken schnitzel and roast vegetables – nothing flash but even
this is ambitious.
Yeah I can cut but I can’t peel.
You can’t peel? I hope you can peel…
I can partially peel I think, it’ll be interesting, we’ll see. Everyone just might be eating
partially peeled potatoes with big bits of skin on them.
It’s no award winning cuisine but they’re finding their own way around the kitchen.
Well we’re putting out the crumbs so we can just toss the chicken into it and crumb
it, Cameron’s idea – he can have that idea.
We could peel first because that’ll take the longest. Sorry I’ll rephrase that –
what are you peeling buddy?
All right what am I peeling?
Pretty much everything because that peeler doesn’t like me.
This is going to be really interesting.
When it came to the peeling and chopping I think I kind of set Ivan up a little bit,
I didn’t intentionally do it but getting him to peel a kumara first, they’re not
the easiest for me to peel let alone for anyone to peel.
The number of times I’ve peeled? Ummm including this time this is probably my second time
and I think it’s only my second time because I probably gave up last time. Dinner could
be quite late tonight.
You are making a meal of that man! I have to say I did admire his perseverance with
it, he really did give it a descent crack, it’s a whole trial and error thing, you’re
going to find a way for you to peel it and it’ll work.
Good so far, pretty good?
There’s going to be no giving up here mate. There are no quitters in the Leslie Academy.
Who said I’m in the academy.
Kind of like police academy.
You’re in my skiing academy tomorrow.
Cunning Cameron’s chosen the non-peel cucumber.
It sound so nana’ish saying you go into home and living places where they’ve got
all sorts of home stuff, keep an eye open for stuff that might just be really helpful
to you.
Do you know how to crack an egg?
No I do not so I’m going to watch how you do it.
Watch and try and figure it out because I don’t even know. Your turn mate.
Let’s see.
If you asked me a week ago to crack an egg for you I would have said no way unless you
wanted a shell in with the yolk because I would have not thought I could have done it.
That was really exciting, it was exciting because I know it’s one thing I’ll be
able to do when I move out and when I go flatting is be able … I think that was just the edge
of what I’ll be able to do when I start cooking so it was a really nice experience.
OK so this is our Cam Band supreme.
I reckon it looks pretty bloody good.
I think so; I’m very impressed with how it came out actually.