Meet Joan Leonard

My name is Joan Leonard. I was born in Brisbane in 1945. My family moved to Cairns. I was the eldest of two children.

We moved back to Brisbane when I was about four years old and lived in Wynnum. 

When I first started with ‘the League’ (CPL - Cerebral Palsy League), we didn’t have any buses or taxis to get to school. I remember my mum used to bring me up from Wynnum every day on the Council bus to Norman Park and we would then catch the ferry over to New Farm Park and she walked with me on her hip from the ferry to the “new” and only Spastic Centre (that is what it was called in those days) at New Farm. This was a one-hour trip each way.

My family moved from Wynnum to Gaythorne when my Dad went into the Army, and I continued going to New Farm CPL from Gaythorne – another long trip daily.

I attended school up to the age of 14 at New Farm, then went into the group K for about 2 years, and then to the workshop.

Looking back at the ’50 years of CPL’ commemorative book to write this has been a walk down memory lane. There are quite a number of photos of myself and of mum attending New Farm and other CPL events and functions.

In 1974, when I was 24, my family moved to Moorooka and my association with New Farm continued.

As my parents became older, I made the decision (when I was 35) to move from home to CPL’s facility “Sevenoakes”, where I received residential care. Many of you will now know this as CPL Fig Tree Pocket. I lived at “Sevenoakes” for about 11 years.

I furthered my education by doing high school by correspondence, and a business course at TAFE at Southbank. When I finished at TAFE, I was successful in getting work at the Little Kings Movement.

When CPL opened their centre in Moorooka in 2000, I began attending that location and will continue to do so for as long as I am able. 

In 2006, I was lucky enough to be able to move into my own home back at Moorooka. It is a Queensland Housing unit and I was consulted in the final ‘fit out’ stage so it would meet my specific needs. I still live here independently with the support of CPL carers. 

In 2016 I received Life Membership for the years of service to CPL. As far as I am aware, at present I am the oldest client who has been receiving continuous service from CPL, and continues to do so – 69 years now and still counting. 

I am very proud of this as I still live in the community and don’t need a motorised scooter, I have my own manual wheelchair that keeps me fit. My friends say I’m ‘selfmotivated’.

I still attend CPL Moorooka two days a week where I enjoy artwork and many of their other activities. With the support of staff my paint brush is attached to a special headpiece to allow me to be creative. At home, my current craft efforts are with tapestry and I am making ‘tote’ type handbags.

I love music and dance, and attend the wheelchair dancing class once a week. 

Now I attend work only two mornings per week (transition to retirement), my work involves computer work. My home computer is operated by a floor-mounted trackball-type mouse. I do love the improvements in technology that have made things easier for people with disabilities and now I mostly use a tablet device.

In my spare time, I enjoy kite flying and am the only member in Australia of a Kite Flying club who has this type of disability. 

Sadly, all of my immediate family (mother, father, brother) have now passed away, and while I have a number of nieces and nephews, none are local. I do however have wonderful CPL support, my faith, family, and fantastic ‘framily’ (friends I consider family), so I am blessed and surrounded by loved ones still. 

What’s next for me? Retire? I don’t have time to retire…. With the support of CPL, I hope to be able to live independently in the community for many more years to come.

- Joan Leonard

Current Grey
Joan pictured at a park from the waist up with CPL CEO Rhys Kennedy and a friend. Joan is wearing grey pants and a jumper. Rhys is wearing black pants and blue button up shirt. The friend is wearing black pants and purple shirt with a red jumper tied around her waist.