Chelsea's chance at independence

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Over the last few years, Chelsea’s smiling face has become a familiar sight at Minda. I know that when you read her story that you will feel so proud of how she has blossomed.

I must call on that generosity again now and ask you to please consider a donation to Minda. You have the potential to make a difference to people who desperately need it.

Chelsea is the youngest of four children. But she almost didn’t make it. In what must have been a terrifying time for her mum, Christine, Chelsea almost died at birth.

Sadly, Chelsea was deprived of oxygen for a period of time during birth because the umbilical cord was caught tightly around her neck.

As you might imagine, it was a traumatic time for mum and baby, but Christine says that her girl is strong:

“People say that Chelsea is a fighter, because if she wasn’t, she wouldn’t have survived.”

As the months went by, Christine grew worried when Chelsea didn’t seem to be reaching the same milestones as her siblings - she struggled to put on weight and couldn’t sit up on her own.

When Chelsea was twelve months old, Christine and her husband were told that Chelsea had a disability. There was no name for it, but delayed growth and development. They were also given the devastating news that their little girl would never be able to walk without calipers.

Upon hearing the diagnosis, Christine went numb.

Can you imagine what it must be like to learn that your beautiful child may never speak or walk? Families of children with disability often find themselves in crisis with nowhere to turn.

Please will you offer your support with a donation? It could make a world of difference.

“I think I was in denial. I didn’t fully accept it. I kept busy with my four children and just drifted along for a while,” Christine says.

As time passed and the reality set in that Chelsea was going to be different and experience a lot of challenges, Christine couldn’t help but feel responsible.

“I wasn’t a confident person and I blamed myself for Chelsea’s disability. Mentally and emotionally it was really tough.”

The family found reason to celebrate, however, when Chelsea started walking – without calipers!

As the kids grew up, Chelsea attended speech therapy and physiotherapy and was included in a special unit at school. She had more challenges than her siblings, but never shied away from being around people and getting involved.

When Chelsea’s older brother and sisters moved out of home, and Chelsea finished her schooling, it was just her and mum living at home. Christine remembers this as a particularly difficult time.

“There was a period where Chelsea would get really angry and upset. She was often frustrated – I remember it felt I was constantly patching up the walls of the house. The situation felt hopeless. But sometimes you have to reach rock bottom – because it was at that time someone suggested Minda,” she says.

Christine’s first meeting with Minda’s Disability Choices team was an emotional one.

She was desperate for help and didn’t know where to turn. Chelsea was obviously desperately unhappy and Christine struggled to cope with the frequent aggression.

“At that first meeting with Minda I was crying more than I was talking,” Christine says.

“Thankfully a job in Isabel’s Café at Minda’s Brighton site opened up at just the right time.”

The opening at Isabel’s was a perfect fit for Chelsea, who had previously worked in a café her mum managed in Port Adelaide. It was, however, a time when Chelsea was really struggling with anger and frustration.

“On the way to work in the mornings, Chelsea would hit me in the arms. I was covered in bruises. She got to the end of her trial period and wasn’t offered the position,” says Christine.

When I see Chelsea now, she goes about her work with a big smile on her face, but there was a time where she had to decide whether this was what she wanted.

Christine knew that Chelsea had more to offer and requested a second chance.

“I was hysterical. I was crying and pleading and saying if you let her go now, we go back to where we were or even worse. Please, please give my daughter a chance.”

And we are so glad we did.

“I think within a few days of that meeting, something clicked in Chelsea’s mind and she realised she loved it there. Understanding that she almost lost her job, her attitude to her work changed completely,” says Christine.

Since that time, Chelsea has become a valuable team member at Isabel’s. Her skills and confidence have grown immensely.

You have the ability to make a difference to someone like Chelsea. With a donation to Minda you will be generously reaching out to people living with disability who urgently need support.

“The job at Isabel’s has made a huge difference to Chels. It’s positively impacted her selfesteem, her communication and her social interactions. I mean, she’s just so loved at Minda,” says Christine.

All a parent wants is for their child to be happy and loved. As a mother myself, it would be horrible to think that one of my children might feel alone or insignificant.

“It makes me sad to think that there are people who are indifferent to her, who can’t see how much she has blossomed. She’s achieved a lot, and it is wonderful that they recognise that at Minda.”

Chelsea works four days a week as a part of Minda’s catering team. To see the enormous progress she has made is just wonderful.

The biggest difference I see is her confidence. Chelsea is very verbal now – taking coffee orders over the phone, showing initiative when she notices a job that needs doing and acting as a representative for supported employees at Minda Reference Group.

Her life has turned around since gaining her confidence and independence. Without a caring, supportive environment to encourage her, Chelsea’s insecurities and frustration may have taken a hold of her.

Chelsea is developing skills and enjoys an active social life like other young women her age. Her future is looking brighter than ever.

Minda has been there for Chelsea in a time when she needed it most - and will be there for her as long as we can offer her support.

Please will you be there for people like Chelsea who have nowhere else to turn? A donation today will allow us to offer support to more people living with disability in South Australia.

It is only through the generosity of our supporters that Minda can bridge the gap between high demand for disability services and limited funding.

Your support could change a life. Thank you so much for what you are able to give.