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Stella Rose Carew

Stella Rose Carew

Image description: Stella smiling in front of a patterned background

In this month's Community Spotlight, we are shining a light on one of our Need-Knowers, Stella Rose Carew. Stella participated in the September 2022 Makeathon. She came to the program seeking a way to wash her dishes independently. Stella valued being listening to and involved throughout the process. 

1. Brief intro/background/”about me”

I'm willing to try most things. I would love to try sailing again. Previously I was learning how to crew on a yacht.

I’m painting a creative piece. I used to do paint by numbers, and now I am using up all my leftover paints. I like reusing things, giving them second life. I pulled the canvas off hard rubbish.

I came to Yooralla house, which is independent living, from a group home. I came from having all my meals cooked and chores done for me to cooking independently. Now I needed to buy ingredients, make meals, clean up and wash my own dishes. Who else was going to wash them?

2. How did you get involved with TOM? What was your challenge? 

I didn't know about TOM: Melbourne before I came to Yooralla. One of my carers mentioned it, and he joined me at the Makeathon and helped make the solution.

My unit was not accessible. It was made 10 years ago, and they were still learning about accessibility.

But I'm inventive. I changed a few things myself, but I had to get help from carers to access the sink. I asked for a portable attachment for my sink which would allow me to wash my own dishes, because it empowers my independence. I wanted a solution that I could sit underneath in my wheelchair to wash my dishes by hand and would drain water back into the sink.

3. What was your experience being part of the TOM: Melbourne Makeathon Program? What was your favourite memory? 

I loved it. The whole thing. What I said was now important. People listened to me and what I needed. It wasn't something being flung at me and being told “here, use this”. 

It was overwhelming, in a good way. I was still getting used to independent living but at the Makeathon everyone was hanging off my every word. It made me feel special and like I was back in the real world. Going from being told “this is your problem” and “this is the solution” to people listening to me. I was used to being told what I wanted, now I was being asked.

They would keep listening and trying different things. And if I had an idea, the team tried it. They tried ideas, because what I said was important enough to try. I didn't have to accept what was given to me.

I was part of the process, I helped make it, which makes a difference.

4. How has your solution changed your life?

The most important things are knowing my ideas are true and knowing I could do something.

Before, I couldn't use the kitchen sink, The tray lets me wash things, all sorts of things. Not just dishes. It's also a stable table I can get under. Coming out from church, just across the road, was a hard rubbish pile. I was told not to bring anything back. But sometimes they have just the thing you need. There was a handbag that fitted over my head, and when over my arm rests didn’t engage with my wheels. But! It needed a wash inside! Hence the use of the tray, as a means of scrubbing the internal bag.

Image Description: Stella using her sink extension to wash her new bag

You’ll never guess what I did next. I have an induction stove and pots move around when I mix things in them. So, I bought an electric pan that I can use. I can make a beautiful souffle omelette in my pan.

In my mind I'm still exploring what I can do with my sink extension. Maybe it can be adapted for sewing. I can still press the machine pedal. I've made quilts. It's great to make skirts, you can buy them but they're not good quality.

5. What would you say to people who are thinking of participating in the next Makeathon?

Go for it! It’s mixing with likeminded individuals. Even if you don't find a solution to the challenge you came with, you might connect with someone and learn about a solution from someone else. It’s not just the physical but it’s the mental stimulation, learning how to think sideways about something.

6. Anything else you want to add about the Makeathon?

You’ll make great solutions to problems, and you can make good friends.

July 2024

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