Chermside Lass Appeals for Gift of Dignity, Choice and Independence for People With Disabilities

Chermside Ambassador Mikaela Norris
Photo Credit: Supplied

Mikaela Norris, a 21-year-old Chermside woman with a rare condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, is appealing for the gift of dignity, choice and independence for people with disabilities this Christmas season.

As a disability advocate and the 2022 Youngcare Christmas Appeal Ambassador, Mikaela is looking forward to spending her first Christmas in a Specialist Disability Accommodation unit in Chermside after years of living with her parents. She is also hoping that more young people with disability will have access to appropriate housing so they could also enjoy a special Christmas with their friends and loved ones.

Over 3,100 young people with disabilities are living in aged care across Australia and nearly half of them are ready to be moved to a Specialist Disability Accommodation.

“I previously lived with my parents, who I have always had a great relationship with, but they were acting as my carers as well which wasn’t fair, so now they can just be my parents,” Mikaela said when asked why she advocated living independently despite her condition.

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“As a young woman and a strong advocate for disability rights, I think it’s critical everybody has the opportunity to have a say in what they do, because, at the end of the day, it’s your life, it’s your choice.”

Photo Credit: Supplied

Youngcare has helped Mikaela and thousands of other Australians live their lives with the same opportunities that other young people enjoy through the delivery of At Home Care Grants, Home Support Grants and high-quality, purpose-built accessible housing tailored to a younger lifestyle.

Youngcare Head of Development and Housing Tim Lambert said the Christmas Appeal goes a long way to providing much-needed accessible housing to young people living with high physical support needs.

“The Christmas Appeal contributes to Youngcare’s housing, directly supporting young people’s choice to live young lives in high-quality Specialist Disability Accommodation,” Tim said.

“We are extremely proud to offer premium residential options, like the apartment Mikaela is living in, and have many more homes in the planning and construction stages across Australia.

“Our team are experts in development best practice, working every day to ensure our residents are living with freedom, choice and control.”

Youngcare also offers its At Home Care Grants program, which funds up to $10,000 for young people with high physical support needs to help buy essential items and services that can’t be funded elsewhere. To date, Youngcare has provided more than 370 At Home Care Grants throughout Queensland alone since the program’s inception in 2009.

For Mikaela, the program funded essential respite that allowed her to attend schoolies — her first outing away from her family — and a modified door in her family home to prevent Mikaela from injuring herself when entering and exiting.

Photo Credit: Supplied

Youngcare also operates ‘Youngcare Connect’, a free support line for young people with high physical support needs, their families and carers, offering information and advice on navigating the NDIS, as well as available housing, funding and care options.

All funds raised during Youngcare’s Christmas Appeal will help the organisation continue to develop aspirational Specialist Disability Accommodation, advocate for much-needed policy change, deliver its vital grants programs, and provide education, advice and pathways through its Youngcare Connect support line.

“I am thrilled to be Youngcare’s Christmas Appeal Ambassador for 2022 and encourage people across Brisbane to get involved. Every donation, no matter how big or small, makes a huge difference to beneficiaries like me.”