Will and passion driving Sora to succeed
Being vision impaired might be an impediment for some, but for Sora Wong it’s proven to be an inspiration to excel. Pascal Adolphe reports.
20 September 2023
Sora Wong’s long list of achievements would be considered remarkable for any able-bodied student, athlete or musician.
The Putney Public School Year 6 student won gold in the team relay and silver in her individual event at this year’s National Cross-Country Championship in Canberra.
Sora also plays clarinet in the school band and is a member of multiple junior and senior dance groups, participating in the Sydney North Dance Festival.
She was recently placed into the selective stream for the 2024 school year at Ryde Secondary College and wants to become a novelist, after winning writing competitions in braille.
Sora has done all this with no vision in her right eye and only five per cent vision in her left but is propelled by a simple philosophy.
“If you put the effort and practice; and you have the will and passion to do it, I think that you can over time,” she said.
“When I was younger, I believed I couldn’t really do anything, so it was like a drive to prove to others and myself that just because I have a vision problem, it doesn’t mean I can’t do stuff.
“I started doing all my sports and I got to state. I did band and started playing my instrument more, and I started to realise that, hey, being vision impaired isn’t that bad and maybe I can do good even if I have a disability.”
Putney Public School Relieving Principal, Kerrie Sheehan, has seen Sora blossom from the time she was in Kindergarten.
“Anything the school does, Sora’s name is on it. If there’s a debate, Sora’s in the debate. If there’s a dance, band or drama competition; you name it, Sora does it, and she does it really well.”
Sora said being teased in Kindergarten also provided motivation to excel.
“Some students thought I was weird because I used my cane to get around and obviously sighted people don’t understand … what being vision impaired means,” she said.
“I had to prove to myself and others that I can actually do things, do stuff that sighted people can and sometimes maybe even better.”
Among all her academic, sporting and musical pursuits, cross country running is Sora’s favourite activity.
“It makes me happy to go and run my races and meet other people while I’m at different places, other schools and other parts of Australia,” she said.
As for a career, she hopes to make writing the focus of her future ambitions, perhaps even becoming a bestselling novelist.
“I like writing a lot. At home I do lots of writing. I have a story and I add to it every day. So, as a career I probably would do writing,” she said.
Ms Sheehan said Sora was supported at school by “fabulous” teachers under the guidance of “two amazing” itinerant vision support teachers, Sandra Robertson and Marjorie Logan.
Ms Robertson said Sora was determined and “a very good advocate for the things that work for her”.
“She’s taken on board everything we’ve suggested over time. We’ve worked with her and now she’s very independent,” she said.
“She’s quite an inspiring young girl. She’s had lots of challenges to overcome. Sometimes her peers do things differently to her and so she’s had to stand up and say, ‘these are the things that I need to do so I can be successful’.”