Reality television star Lily McManus is a straight shooter. She calls it how she sees it, all with a cheeky grin and a glint in her eye. “Everyone is dealt bad cards in life; you just have to play with what you’re given and make the most of that.” It’s hard to believe this self-assured 22-year-old was once very much in denial about having a hearing loss. At the age of 15, she was told she would have to wear hearing aids for the rest of her life, a reality that a younger Lily struggled to come to terms with. “When I was a kid, I wanted to ignore the issue, hoping the whole ‘out of sight, out of mind’ trick would work. It didn’t.” “I never took responsibility for my own issues.” To say Lily has had a turnaround in attitude is nothing short of an understatement. Lily Embraces her Youth Ambassador Status Since her initial diagnosis, Lily has more than just accepted her hearing loss, she has bravely put it under the almighty magnifying glass that is national television. From starring on the Bachelor New Zealand in 2017, to joining the Celebrity Treasure Island cast this year, Lily proves having a disability doesn’t have to hold you back. On Celebrity Treasure Island New Zealand, she chose to play for the National Foundation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NFDHH), raising $6000, as well as hearing health awareness, as a Youth Ambassador. “It’s been amazing to work with a charity that hits so close to home for me,” Lily says. “When I was a little girl, I never had someone to look up to when it came to my hearing disability. I think if I did it would have been easier to digest. “So, if I can be that role model for young people and potentially make this easier for them, then my work here is done.” Hearing Loss in the Spotlight As a Celebrity Treasure Island team Kahu member, Lily has been well and truly thrust into the spotlight – and not just for the gruelling physical challenges, bikinis and tribal war paint. She even handed over her hearing aids to Eric Murray, Olympic gold medallist and fellow team Kahu member, when she went for a swim. In her trademark tongue-in-cheek style, she shared with her 130,000+ Instagram followers that she could now tick this off her list of life goals. “Hardest part about wearing hearing aids? The amount I’ve lost to the ocean/shower/even a bottle of nail polish once. Can now tick off ‘make an Olympian gold medallist hold my hearing aids whilst I go for a swim’ from my bucket list.” Lily is at Peace with her Disability Lily says she has come to terms with her hearing loss and that helps her to talk about her condition and accept help, without feeling sorry for herself. Like many others with a hearing loss, Lily has become all too aware that having a physical disability can also take a toll on mental health. “Having a weak sense impacts your mental health greatly. [Having a hearing loss] is such an isolating disability.” “Working in hospitality made me realise that people are so easily offended when you ask them to repeat themselves.” And she has a message for those who don’t have a hearing loss. “Repeating yourself is nothing compared to living a life asking people to do it. So just be wary, you never know what someone else is dealing with,” Lily says. Fortunately for Lily, her Celebrity Treasure Island cast members were understanding and compassionate when it came to her hearing loss. “If I didn’t hear anything, no one was upset to repeat it and I was never afraid to ask. “Communication was a huge part of challenges, so everyone was more than happy to go the extra mile to keep me in the loop. Especially Shannon [Ryan], she’s a legend.” “It’s not the end of the world” to have a hearing loss Lily wants young people to understand that it’s “not the end of their world” to have a hearing loss. “…Yes, it is scary and it’s upsetting and it’s okay to feel these things, but you can’t let those feelings hinder who you are going to be as a human. “Accept the help you are offered, talk about it, try your best to make the most of your situation, you’ll thank yourself 10 years down the line.” Sage advice from a woman who was once a self-confessed “out of sight, out of mind” kind of gal when it came to her disability. So, what’s next for this vivacious 22-year-old? One thing’s for sure, she won’t stay still for long. Stay tuned.