By Rachel McIntee

On February 11, 2019, the Thriving In Place activity Meet me on Monday Bring Your Own Lunch had a creative twist. Megan Ajello, assisted by her mother Linda Ajello, hosted Megan’s Meet me on Monday Bring Your Own Lunch and Card Making activity where Megan assisted other Thriving In Place members with making beautiful Valentine’s Day themed cards for their loved ones.

They used a Cricut Maker paper cutting machine to create different cut outs that were then glued to various sheets of colored paper. This is the machine Megan uses on a regular basis as an outlet for her creativity. Megan has had to overcome challenges throughout her life. Despite this, she has a big heart and loves to share her sweetness with the community, especially the Thriving In Place community, through her beautiful cards.

Linda Ajello explains, “Megan is a 25-year-old who has cerebral palsy quadriparesis, which means all her limbs and trunk are affected, so she must use a wheelchair and cannot bear weight on her own. She goes in a stander each day to be in a standing position to allow for better circulation, digestion, and even socialization. She must be transferred using lifts as she needs help with all aspects of daily living such as toileting, bathing, and even cutting up her food etc. She has undergone more than 10 surgeries, we lost count, including a spinal fusion which involved 2 rods and 37 screws to hold her spine up since her lungs and heart were being compromised from her scoliosis. Her seizures seem to be under control now, but we must monitor her constantly.”

Megan makes cards monthly to donate to the Thriving In Place program and they always receive rave reviews. The cards are used for many occasions to be sent out to other Thriving In Place members throughout the year.

“Everyone has something to offer. We may need technology to do it. Megan’s speech is hard to understand, but she can make an intricate congratulations card for a newly engaged couple and she can decorate a receiving blanket with iron on monograms for a newborn baby. She can EXPRESS herself and it helps her to socialize, too,” says Linda Ajello.

Megan who resides in both New York and Celebration, Florida wants to move to Celebration full time. She wishes her sister would live in Celebration, too. Erin is 22 and in graduate school in New York. “The community- whether it be Thriving in Place, or Corpus Christi Sunday night Mass where she “sings along” – is the most welcoming place we have ever found.  The emphasis on everyone being accepted and just walking along by the lake or Farmer’s Market and people greeting you with a smile has been wonderful for her and the emphasis on volunteering and helping others is a great place for her to join in, in her own way,” says Linda Ajello.

For questions regarding Thriving in Place please call 407-572-9850, e-mail Thriving@celebrationfoudnation.org, or visit the office at 690 Celebration Avenue.