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All the right moves

Thursday, 4th October, 2018

Grace Dowton out the front of her own wonderful home. PICTURE: Supplied Grace Dowton out the front of her own wonderful home. PICTURE: Supplied

Grace Dowton, a local 20-year-old with cerebral palsy, a mild intellectual disability, and epilepsy, has been able to move out of home to live independently with the help of the National Disability Insurance Agency.

When Grace completed school a few years ago, all she wanted was to move out of home and live her own life, the same as any other young adult wanting to lead an independent lifestyle. 

Grace’s parents, Wendy and Neville, backed their daughter’s ambition but supported accommodation options in Broken Hill were limited for such a young woman. After a lengthy search, they found a three-bedroom home ideal for Grace’s circumstances but knew she would need suitable support to ensure she could cope on her own. 

That is where the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and Local Area Coordinator Michael Mckee, who works for NDIS partner Social Futures in Broken Hill, came into it.

Michael identified a need for Grace to build her social inclusion by participating in day programs, to obtain her driver’s licence and to develop her ability to live independently with the help of support workers. 

“I always lived at home until the NDIS came through,” says Grace. “I always wanted my own space and now I’ve got it.”

Grace spent six months transitioning out of the family home and into her own space, so that when her NDIS plan came through in February 2018 she was ready to begin her new life with confidence. 

Grace attends day programs at local disability service provider LiveBetter from Tuesday to Friday weekly and does work experience at a local early education centre on Mondays. 

“I want to work with little kids and I’ll be starting my TAFE Certificate Three in Childcare next year,” she said. 

Her NDIS plan means she can access support workers to help her at home seven days a week, with regular life skills activities such as meal preparation on a Tuesday afternoon, cleaning on Thursdays and visits from her Occupational Therapist on Fridays. 

Grace decided to give bingo a go, and a support worker accompanied her the first six times she participated at her local football club. She now has the confidence to attend on her own once a week if she wishes. 

Grace also attends Zumba classes thrice weekly and is a volunteer staff member in the creche at the same gym. 

“I’ve got heaps of friends from school and now I’ve made a whole heap more at Zumba, so I go out a lot to the movies or for a coffee. Everything’s so close I can walk everywhere. 

This Saturday, October 6, marks World Cerebral Palsy Day. A day that aims to ensure people with cerebral palsy have the same rights, access and opportunities as everyone else in society.

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