Humans of the Wheatbelt

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a disability project that celebrates inclusion within the community.

There is always someone in each story that has a disability whether it is the human, interviewer, photographer or writer.

I moved to the Wheatbelt about four years ago with my husband and 2 boys. We had visited friends in Toodyay, and when we realised we could live on three acres in Toodyay for the same price as a tiny block in Midland it was a no brainer. So much so that we put an offer on our new house before we even put the old one on the market, luckily the universe lined up and everything fell into place.

I love the small country feel in Toodyay and how everyone looks out for each other. It’s a bonus that it’s close enough to Perth that you can easily drive to Midland if you need to. Northam was a little bit too big for us, which is probably why we chose Toodyay, but we end up spending a lot of time in Northam and are grateful for the facilities there.

I have lived in other country towns over my life (Leinster and Coolgardie) but I spent my whole childhood in Bayswater in a big house on a large block so the smaller suburban blocks have always seemed claustrophobic to me, country life feels much more spacious.

My Mum always jokes that I had 3 mums growing up as my sisters are 9 and 11 years old than me, I think I was lucky to have such strong female role models during those formative years. I still have family in Perth but my Mum and sister live in Waroona.

My parents divorced when I was 8 and my Dad passed away from Parkinson’s disease a few years ago. It is difficult losing a parent but especially so for me as we didn’t have the best relationship, people may not realise but Parkinson’s isn’t only a physical ailment but greatly affects mental health as well.

We are part of the large group of homeschoolers in the Wheatbelt. I homebirthed both my boys and it was quite a natural progression for us to homeschool, I have more friends who homeschool than send their kids to mainstream school. I love the flexibility and the opportunity for my kids to learn in their own unique way. I also quite like spending time with them, I know a lot of parents can’t wait for their kids to get back to school but I can’t think of anything worse than not seeing them all day. We get to do all kinds of fun stuff together and we have a small group of families that we share the child minding with so they get to spend several days a week with all their favourite mates. For us it’s important our kids develop a love of learning and the ability to follow their own passions and ideas.

I have run my own business for 6 years as it is now, before that I ran Family Day Care and before that I was the disabilities co-ordinator and a swimming teacher at Beatty Park. Now my business offers virtual assistant services (administration, marketing and accounts) for clients all over the world.

I completed my training as a yoga teacher last year after practicing for over ten years. I always wanted to work as a yoga instructor, but I thought I was somehow not good enough or didn’t know enough.

There are a lot of messages out there that imply you need to be a skinny, beautiful, totally zen person who can get their legs over their head to practice yoga. I recently completed training with Yoga Detour and it has been transformational to the way I teach as well as my own practice, now I teach the functional not the aesthetic. Now my classes are much more about helping people move better both on and off the mat by breaking everything down to the specific movement we need to work on.

I am also Restorative Yoga trained and incorporate this deeply restive practice into all my class which run in Toodyay, Stoneville, Gidgegannup and Morangup. I love it when I see my students come out of the final meditation with this energy of ease and peace as well as being able to move with less pain and restriction.

Last year I also discover Access Bars, a healing modality that works by clearing limiting thought patterns, beliefs and emotions. I was looking for a way to help with my anxiety and some physical pain and I was amazed at the way it changed my life so now I offer this as part of what I do as well.

I foster cats through SAFE and I have been involved with a few different community groups. I also do volunteer work with a group in Perth called Communified which assists families whose children have serious illnesses or disabilities. They have several different programs so people can support families and I assist with writing the blogs for the Warrior Mail program. Each month we feature a different child and we ask the community to write to them, amongst all the treatments and challenges the child is facing they get this big, amazing package delivered to them with letters and gifts from all over the country, all with the same message – ‘We think you are a Warrior”. No matter how many I write I cry every time at these stories of strength and resilience.

I have suffered from anxiety my whole life and spent years trying to work out why I was fatigued all the time, working with an Integrative GP has been a game changer for me as well as my boys (who both have social anxiety). For a long time I would just have to live with feeling crap but with supplements, lifestyle changes and mindset tools I was able to turn this around and also see major improvements in my boys.

One of the best moments of my life so far was completing my yoga teacher training. That was a hard slog! I found it challenging because for me yoga is not about the external, it is not a fitness class whereas the school I was training with was very much focused on appearances and what people can do.

For me Yoga is about being not doing so training with Cecily from Yoga Detour has really helped expand my practice and knowledge base.

The homebirths of my sons of course were also amazing moments in my life. My eldest was birthed with CMP and my youngest with Independent Midwives, the second birth was by far the most difficult but also the most joyful. I am forever grateful to the support of my IMs, doula and birth photographer who created this amazing circle of trust and safety. I believe that every woman should have the choice to have whatever birth she wants whether that is birthing on a mountain alone, an elective C section or anything in between.

I have had a few tough moments in my life including when my niece passed away at the age of two after a bad fall. It really highlighted the frailty of life for me especially as my own son was a similar age. There have been times where I am perhaps too cautious with my own kids but life can be taken in a moment and whilst I am a bit believer in everything happening for a reason I also think we need to be sensible about the risks we let our children face.

My husband and I also fostered for 2 years, we had the intention to do so permanently but looking back I see how naïve we were. We thought once we gave a child a solid home we could make a real difference but it was like chaos every day, we had no idea what we were going to face with her from one day to the next. When I became pregnant with my first child we knew there was no way we could expose a baby to the environment that was being played out in our house and we decided to finish our time fostering.

One piece of advice I have for people is to you are so much stronger and powerful than you think. When we strip away all the external influences and stored up emotions and beliefs and instead fill our lives with joy and positivity (even when things don’t seem that joyful 😉) our lives start to change for the better.

Human - Sharon Pegrum
Interviewer - Anna Cornish
Photographer - Tom Gratis Roh
Writer - Guy Salvidge

Shire of Toodyay Parkinson's Foundation Sharon Pegrum SAFE Avon Valley Yoga Detour


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NORTHAM

Wheatbelt Health Centre
25 Holtfreter Avenue, Northam
Phone: 08 9621 4444
Open: 8am-6pm Mon – Fri

Aboriginal Health - Northam
65 Wellington Street, Northam
Phone: 08 9690 2824

TOODYAY

Alma Beard Medical Centre
81 Stirling Tce, Toodyay
Phone: 08 9578 2500
Open: 8.30am – 5pm Mon – Fri

WUNDOWIE

Wundowie Health Centre
GP Services
283 Boronia Ave, Wundowie
Phone: 08 9621 4444
Open: 8.30am – 4pm Wednesdays

NARROGIN

Aboriginal Health - Narrogin
Williams Road, Narrogin
Phone: 08 9881 0385
Open: 8.30am – 4.30pm Mon – Tues

After hours medical assistance: In an emergency call 000 or present to your nearest Regional Hospital emergency department. If you have a non- emergency and would like to consult with a GP then call Telstra Health on 1800 225 523. The service is free to access for Australian residents who reside in the wheatbelt or who are temporarily residing in the Wheatbelt. This service can be accessed before 8am and after 6pm Monday-Friday, before 8am and after 12pm Saturday and all day Sunday and any Public Holidays. Thank you to Western Australia Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) for funding this service.

  • 25 Holtfreter Avenue, Northam

  • 81 Stirling Tce, Toodyay

  • 65 Wellington Street, Northam

  • Williams Road, Narrogin

  • 283 Boronia Ave, Wundowie

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