Nick's story

Growing up I never saw myself as a carer. Ever since I can remember I have been helping out at home, caring for my Mum who has depression and a heart condition. I also help care for my older sister who has been diagnosed with ODD, Autism, Asperger’s and epilepsy and my younger brother who has been diagnosed with ODD, Autism, ADHD and Asperger’s.

As a young carer I cook, clean and mentally and physically support my mother and siblings. If there is an outburst or tantrum at home, I’m always there to calm things down.

Until April last year I didn’t identify as a young carer and I was shocked to learn that there are over 300,000 young carers in Australia. I’ve just grown up with my siblings, helping them out and being there for them, I didn’t realise that what I was doing was caring.

I now know that there is support available to me and other young carers. Meeting other young carers has also made me realise that I’m not so different to other people my age and that there are lots of people who have grown up caring for their family and friends – sometimes without even knowing it.

I have friends who are caring for their families and they don’t know it either. I want my friends to know that they are not alone and that there is company out there and people who understand what they do at home to help their family or friends.

Like life itself, there are challenges that come with caring; these can be emotional, physical and mental challenges, sometimes there are social challenges or challenges at school too.

My school runs a program called SMILE, which stands for Support, Mentor, Inspire, Listen and Encourage. The SMILE program matches younger students with an older mentor who can be a friend and provide help and advice.

I am a SMILE program mentor which is incredible, my SMILE buddy used to be bullied at school but I was able to look out for him. Now he’s no longer bullied and he smiles a lot more, that’s what it’s all about. I still look out for him and we meet up and talk at school.

I think being a young carer has made me more mature and tolerant and I’ve definitely learnt good leadership skills. Caring for my family and experiencing things that not all young people go through has definitely helped shape me and make me a kind hearted person.

 

Nick is registered with Young Carers at Carers NSW and recently completed the 2016 Young Carer Leadership Program. You can read more about young carers at www.youngcarersnsw.org.au

 

Who Cares? app for young carers

The Who Cares? app was designed for young people, from the age of 12, who care for loved ones with a disability or illness. The app was developed in consultation with young carers and features stories from young carers and social media functions to help build community awareness of the unique experience of young carers and the support they most need.

The app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play by searching 'young carers app'.

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Carers NSW acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land, Elders past and present and all Aboriginal people.