Ria Strong

G'day all... I'm Ria, from Melbourne, Australia.

Ria, Anitra and Zelda deMilo
Photo in front of Real Change

As a child, I escaped into music, into books—or into corners of my mind. As a teenager, I escaped physically. Life on the streets was safer than life in my family home.

I always planned to be a teacher and I made it to teachers' college, despite the odds. Then the unthinkable happened—I had a second brain injury. I found myself in a day program and doctors said I should live in an institution. I escaped the day program and avoided the institution. I'm now a disability advocate, activist and community worker—I help make escape-hatches for others. Sometimes I even get paid.

I've written on and off for many years—mostly poetry, and mostly based on my life experiences. I don't know how I found StreetWrites, but I joined the group's online workshop in 1999. In July-August 2000 (incredibly!), I travelled to Seattle to speak at a conference—and, of course, to meet people from StreetWrites. I'd love to make it back to you all one day.