Michelle’s Story – ‘I’m Having The Best Time of My Life’

Back to blog2 years ago by Jodie
Will overwrite featured video.
woman with cerebral palsy in wheelchair holding her artwork and accompanied by female assistant
Will overwrite featured image.

Taking part in Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s Individualised Funding Program was all the boost Michelle Molen needed to start turning her hobby into a small business.

With her funky hairstyle and love of fashion you can’t help but assume there’s a creative streak to Michelle Molen when meeting her for the first time.

At 42 years of age, Michelle is finally realising a life-long dream to make a living from selling her artworks.  Although interested in art since an early age, Michelle’s cerebral palsy made it challenging for her to indulge her passion. However, since purchasing her iPad and using accessible apps, Michelle has been able to develop her artistic skills, and has produced a plethora of work which she exhibits and sells at local retail outlets and market stalls. Her most recent exhibition was in June this year attended by more than 60 people.

To further her business aspirations Michelle joined Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s Individualised Funding program which has allowed her for the last year to employ her assistant Natasha to help with the setting up of an online store for her business, Shellie’s Wicked Designs.

‘I think the business would have taken a lot longer to develop without the support of someone like Natasha. She helps sell my artworks and manages the online ordering processes as well as producing online content including taking and uploading product photographs.’

My short term goal is to have more people buying my art online and eventually have my own shop.

Poppy Malone has managed the program since Cerebral Palsy Alliance was authorised by ADHC (Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care) to be a provider of self-management/directed programs in 2012.

She says the program gives adults with cerebral palsy the flexibility to self-manage their individual funding from ADHC to create and implement a support program that suits their needs and interests. Funding packages are allocated to students during an assessment period usually around the start or middle of Year 12.

To date, the program which currently operates in Sydney and in the Hunter region has worked with 20 individuals such as Michelle who after a short period of using Cerebral Palsy Alliance as a point of contact is now independently working with Natasha.

Unlike centre-based programs that provide regular group activities and operate from a fixed location, individuals and their families/support networks are the key drivers in the design, coordination and management of their plan and decide how they spend their funding and the support system they wish to use.

‘The amount of involvement people would like from us with designing their personalised plans is entirely up to them. Some people like to be supported all the way through and wish to make regular contact while others like to do it all themselves only using us to financially manage and report back to them with financial summaries,’ she says.

‘The aim of the program is to maximise a person’s independence through greater choice and control.  We don’t co-ordinate activities for participants; instead, we facilitate access to the resources they need or connect them with others who can share their experiences and knowledge,’ says Poppy.

It’s important to note that the individualised funding program should be considered as an additional support option for adults with cerebral palsy rather than as a replacement for  centre-based support.  Depending on their personal funding packages, individuals can take part in both programs.

While it’s up to the individual to identify the supports they need and play an active part in ‘putting in place their plan, Cerebral Palsy Alliance will manage the financial, legal, staffing, insurances and administrative requirements of each individualised plan.

‘Ultimately, our goal is to provide individuals and their families with the skills, tools and resources they need to create a flexible plan that allows the person to take part in activities at any time, that meet their current interests and goals and enable them to choose the people they want to work with.’

Break Out Box

Ways to Spend Your Funding Package

  • Hire carers of similar age and interests
  • Pay for staff to help you participate in the community or attend university
  • Attend regular hydrotherapy or gym sessions
  • Pay for travel companions
  • Learn new skills / participate in community courses
  • Pursue volunteer roles

What You Can Do

  • Check that you have Community Participation, Life Choices, or Active Aging funding
  • Identify the kind of service you would like, who you would like to support you and how you would like to spend your funding.
  • Contact Poppy Malone on 02 9975 8911 or pmalone@cerebralpalsy.org.au for more information or to arrange an initial appointment.                                                                                                         

How Can Cerebral Palsy Alliance Support You?

  • Help you  design a personalised program that suits your needs, wants and aspirations
  • Provide you with different levels of support to help you manage the recruitment, administration, supervision, coordination and support for your staff
  • Offer you support with budgeting and financial management
  • Link you to information and connections that may be of interest or benefit to you