Stephanie White is a natural extrovert. It is the last day of term at Riding for the Disabled and Stephanie is giving away hugs, saying her farewells and getting in just one more photo of her and her friends. With a headful of cocoa-coloured curls, a button nose covered in freckles and a mischievous smile, Stephanie has no problem winning affection from other children and adults alike.
Today the 10 year old is vivacious, a real energiser bunny, but things weren’t always this way, explains her mum Susan. “She was a medically fragile baby. She was premature and had a heart condition and all sorts of other things. The first five years of her life were rough.“
“We adopted both our children when they were babies. It’s been quite a huge learning curve, because we didn’t realise that both of them had disabilities but we’ve got this now.”
Stephanie receives Enhanced Individualised Funding to meet her support needs and to provide her with assistance in reaching her goals. “Before EIF, it was really hard for us. We used to have staff members sent to us who were totally unsuitable. We used to have staff that wouldn’t turn up for say 12 out of 14 days and things like that. It was really hard to have your own personal power over that,“ says Susan.
“Currently we have two support workers that look after Stephanie in the mornings and in the afternoons,” Susan explains. “They help Stephanie dress and prepare for school. It has taken a massive load off our shoulders as we have another child with a disability.”
“We also use Enhanced Individualised Funding to purchase art therapy classes for Stephanie,“ says Susan. She says that Stephanie lost a lot of confidence after an incident which left the young girl with a concussion and temporary loss of eyesight. “I fell off a deck at school,” Stephanie helpfully explains. “Stephanie really loves art and going to art therapy has really helped build back her self-confidence,” says Susan. “She also loves to sing and dance, riding horses and she likes to cook. She is an excellent cook.” “On Saturday I made crunchie bar fudge,” Stephanie adds while measuring out flour for some biscuits.
“Stephanie’s life is opening up. Next year she’ll be attending Starjam. She’ll be riding again of course and doing swimming. Our funding allows us to have a regular life in the community, which we didn’t have before,” says Susan. “I also like that we get to do a bit of forward planning on how we use our funding and what’s going to work best for our family and for Stephanie. With EIF, we are in control,” says Susan.