Bio of Jo Blesing
After relocating to Melbourne in 1988, Jo returned to Adelaide for her graduation with a Bachelor of Design in Human Environments degree from Uni SA.
Joanne proved to be a naturally amazing designer from the onset. Her talents were showcased in such projects as; The Como, Crown Casino (where jo's position was as the coordinator), RACV (restructure), NAB (restructure) and ANZ Bank (restructure). These are but a few names, her career, even in its infancy encompassed so much more.
Mirroring her personal style, Jo’s new business, started in 1996, was in high end commercial and residential, specialising in dental surgery fit outs. During this time, Jo also tendered for, won and saw to completion the Japanese consulate residence project. This gave her international recognition and in 1997, her efforts garnered the Victorian Design Award.
The year that saw Jo diagnosed with MS.
Jo left Melbourne and all that was important to her to return to Adelaide for an estimated 3 months in which she expected, with the support of her parents, to recover enough in order to be able to return to a relatively normal life.
However, the initial diagnosis turned into a rapid onset of full blown chronic case of secondary MS. This combined with a spinal injury sustained as a result of a car accident earlier in Jo’s life made for an unbearably painful daily existence for which even doctors had no solution.
Jo now completely withdrew from all social interaction purely and simply for the purpose of personal survival.
Jo became very ill and found herself in intensive care for a period of 5 weeks, it was the belief and expectation of the experts that she would be sent to a nursing home as they did not expect her to recover. Jo would quite happily have chosen a firing squad over the latter. Fortunately however, her desire for a better outcome along with the support and sponsorship of friends, she bypassed both and went to Brazil for healing instead, inorder to become strong enough to keep fighting.
2009 Joanne was strong and recovering well, physicians amazed by her miraculous improvements. For the first time since her diagnosis, she was considered for and put into a rehab program, which improved her life immensely.
Although her initial application for a wheelchair was submitted to the government in 2004, only $5000 had been granted to her in early 2008. It was now 2009 and still no sign of any wheelchair, this waiting extremely frustrating.
It was at this point that Jo started her personal battle to fight again for my health. This included the initialisation of the 1000 document submission and justification process for an electric wheelchair to whichfor the chair to which the end result has been Julia Farr through the MS McLeod Benevolent Fund, providing Jo a grant for the new 'Levo' electric standing wheelchair which is the first of its kind in South Australia. The grant also covered a MOTOmed exercise bike, which Jo had been able to cycle at rehab (even though no one believed it had been possible,the years of cycling previously in her life as a triathlete allowed the memory to remain within the nervous system). The purpose of this funding is to research the impact of these innovative pieces of equipment on Joanne's active participation within the community and to identify and promote the benefits that result, so that others may be given the opportunity through the government funding.
Through her desire for personal growth and change, not only did Jo achieve the above, she also managed to acquire for herself a voluntary lecturing role at Adelaide University this being her first step in the direction of social reintegration.
This year started as a year of waiting - waiting for a chair, waiting for a lifter, waiting for a bike, waiting to get better, waiting for some change in her social and work life. Her health took a massive downturn for many months where the pain and sensitivity became unbearable again, and experts could not assist. Through the carers help and persistance, and Jo's pure willpower, this event was created to shift Jo into a different state of consciousness. Jo does everthing stronger and with more determination than the average person without disability, so this event has become a milestone.
The choice to host a fashion parade and include Jo's support team, carers and people with disabilities, is to make a statement about the body image in the media, allowing those that may be nervous in public a chance of stepping out with their heads held high, their hands held and their bodies beautiful. Jo was lucky in her career to be given the chance to learn how to present in public (Mostly to seniority), so found a way through the inbuilt nervousness we start with. Jo wants to impart this knowledge, fun and belief to those closest to her.
A Black Tie Masquerade Charity Dinner with the inclusion of a fashion parade of support team and the disabled was my way to make a difference. I want give others the opportunity to be made glamorous, feel beautiful and play dress up - not only those in the parade but those attending as well. I had been playing dress up and presenter for years before my illness, and love the Melbourne designer within. I want to impart this knowledge and belief to others that may enjoy this aspect of life.
The planning of this event was achieved in spite of multiple, adverse factors and is the first stage of a larger framework for the return to work and society.
Five months ago now, Jo was granted the Levo C3 standing wheelchair. This amazing piece of technology has enabled Jo to stand again , providing independence, that missed height and a most desperately needed new level of mobility. Being able to be elevated to standing height makes such a difference in her mobility, and has increased her level of independence. But apart from the obvious and some less expected physical advantages, one of the real changes has been to the way others see Jo and the way she sees herself. Being at everyone else’s level gives one a presence, makes one feel equal, and allows one to see the world from their perspective. It’s been amazing for her self-esteem and morale.
Jo put herself out in
public that year to try and make a
difference to provide some understanding of the story from a patients’ perspective. The
story has had amazing response. Anyone that has seen just one of the
improvements of Jo's since contact with this healer will support me in every
way that they can. They say for those that believe no proof is necessary, for
those that don't, no proof will ever be enough. To download Jo's e-book on her
Whilst I can say that,
giving up was never on Jo's radar, her new sense of self with the combination
of background of design and creativity, desire to recreate and re-establish
herself into the public eye, and obviously with her experience of living
with a severe disability, sparked the idea of moving to politics and bigger
difference to the larger community.
Being virtually quadriplegic through
Secondary Multiple Sclerosis Jo do not receive enough government funding to
cover showers and even meals . As is well known, the current disability support
system is underfunded, unfair and inefficient;
with determination. Jo has been fighting the system for a long time, and
understands that not everyone has this capacity. She
believes those of us who have the capability must speak on behalf of
others who cannot. Public and political awareness of the realities of living
with a severe disability is in large misunderstood. In being a candidate for the political
group D4D, it was possible to make a significant difference to many. Jo is
passionate about this, and believes it is most important to speak up.
Jo have found that her story has the
ability to motivate people to greater efforts in their own lives. We all need
positive role models. Jo has the
opportunity to inspire and motivate others, both disabled and the able bodied
and has the ability to influence positively the outcome.
You never know how strong you are until
being strong is the only choice you have.
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