Alex Snedden has a very rich life. He pursues his hobbies and passions with vigour, balances two part-time jobs, attends church and always finds time to catch up with mates over a beer and barbeque.
Twenty-eight year old Alex has Down Syndrome, but it is just a small part of who he is, says his mum Bridget. “Alex has a very full life. He is very involved in leadership and community organisations. He is an active member of STRIVE and the Northern region Vice President of People First. He is regularly asked to present at events. Alex also works, goes to the gym, attends church, and until recently volunteered at the local food bank. He has friends who have a disability and those that don’t. It’s a real mix.”
The young man is very independent and has been flatting for more than three years. Alex shares the flat with three people who don’t have a disability, two men and a woman. “Sometimes one of the flatmates cooks and we eat together. It’s really nice,” says Alex.
Just like his flatmates, Alex has a busy schedule, with work three times a week, catching up with friends, weekly karate practices and attending the gym.
He uses Individualised Funding to meet his support needs, although the way this works for Alex is very different from a traditional support set-up. “I didn’t want a caregiver in my life, I wanted a personal assistant,” says Alex. “I really like it when the cleaner comes too.”
Alex employs two personal assistants who do things like organising his food for the week, accompanying Alex to doctor’s appointments and checking in to make sure that his life is running smoothly.
There are other creative ways in which Alex’s family uses Individualised Funding. For example, he has a season ticket to the Breakers and the Rugby. Alex’s family uses Individualised Funding to purchase tickets for a friend to go and support him at the game.
When Alex decided to go to Italy, his parents also used IF to fund a travel partner for him. “Alex wanted to meet the Pope,” says Bridget.
With the confidence he gained on his first overseas trip, not long after Alex was able to travel to New York on his own. “I was very nervous,” admits his mum Bridget, “but sometimes as a parent you have to learn to let go a little.”
For Alex, the sense of freedom he gets from being in charge of his own life is the most important thing. “It’s not about independent living or about any of those things. It’s about freedom. That’s the best thing about my life.”