Blog

PETER MAC RADIOTHERAPY MASKS

Children and young people undergoing radiotherapy now have the opportunity to have a lasting memory from their mask.  Peter Mac and Koala Kids volunteer artists with the support of Koala Kids to provide all of the resources, are creating the most amazing pieces of art in response to patient briefs or themes.
Joanna Weir is very excited at the prospect of working with other artists to create such special memories in response to the patients’ requests.

During daily radiotherapy treatment, it is necessary to ensure that the patient will be in exactly the same position every day. Patients getting radiation to the head and neck area may need a mask to make it easier for a patient to stay still, to help keep the head from moving so that the patient is in the exact same position for each treatment and so any markings can be drawn on the mask, not their skin.

All patient identifications and marks are removed from the mask at the end of treatment. Patients have the option to keep their mask. Koala Kids is providing the materials to transform children’s’ and young peoples’ masks into works of art to keep as special memorabilia.

SIENA’S FUNDRAISING STORY

Siena Sands is turning 10 in a few weeks.

Siena is fundraising for Koala Kids by cutting her beautiful, long, brown brown hair to above her shoulders, at least 25 cms and possibly more. She plans to cut her hair the day before her 10th birthday.

In August Siena’s great aunt passed away from breast cancer. Siena was aware of how important her great aunt’s wig was to her as she had always loved her beautiful hair.

Siena had thought about how special it would be to donate her own hair to someone who is undergoing cancer treatment.  Siena’s mother told us that Siena has always loved her beautiful long hair and had never wanted to cut it, not even trim it. This was until she realised she could cut and donate her hair and that it could be made into a wig for someone who would love her hair as much as she does.

Siena is a very sweet fun loving girl.  She was really moved by the support Koala Kids provides children undergoing cancer treatment and the happiness Koala Kids provides the children and their families. As difficult as it had been watching her aunty with cancer, she couldn’t imagine the impact on a family when a child has cancer.

Siena had watched children at St Vincents de Paul and neighbours undergoing cancer treatment. Cutting her hair was not only going to provide someone with a wig of beautiful hair but she chose to raise money for Koala Kids too, for children with cancer.

Koala Kids thanks and congratulates Siena on such a selfless initiative and like her family and friends are incredibly proud of her. If you wish to support Siena’s generous initiative, you can do so here

DELOITTE ANNUAL IMPACT DAY 2018

Koala Kids hosted 21 volunteers as part of Deloitte Australia’s annual Impact Day. The team enjoyed a range of activities in our office, packing resources to be sent to regional hospitals, assembling Koala Kids creative kits as well as preparing orange donation boxes headed for more than 55 BP stores across Victoria.

During the morning, another group of volunteers toured Monash Children’s Hospital’s Children’s Cancer Centre whilst another group hosted a morning tea and children’s activities for families in the Children’s Cancer Centre at The Royal Children’s Hospital.

Everyone reunited for a delicious lunch back at the office provided by Treat Catering, sharing their hospital experiences.

Each year, every Deloitte around the world (Deloitte are in more than 50 countries) chooses one day to volunteer in the workplace. each year, thousands of Deloitte Staff down their usual work tools to make a positive contribution to the community. For the past three years, Koala Kids has welcomed a group to volunteer for the day. This year,

Koala Kids looks forward to having many of the Deloitte volunteers join us again for other volunteering opportunities throughout the year.

KOALA KIDS INTERN PROGRAM

Chiara Zagame joined Koala Kids last month for a 10 week internship. Chiara is completing her internship as part of her one year events diploma at William Angliss Institute.  She has quickly endeared herself to our Monday team and is enjoying learning about all of the different aspects of our organization, not just events.

Koala Kids welcomes tertiary students looking for formal and informal internships.  Chiara is our fifth William Angliss intern. Earlier this year Amanda Ang worked with us for a semester for her final subject in her arts degree majoring in psychology at Melbourne University.  Harry and Antony came to us via Global Training and Recruitment Solutions (GTRS) – each gained experience in human resources assisting us with our volunteer management.

HAPPY WEEKENDS AT THE ROYAL CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

The opportunity of seeing an actual Melbourne Cup was exciting enough, but having a photo taken holding it was something most of us don’t even dare to dream.  For families and staff in the Children’s Cancer Centre on the first week of November, dreams became reality as most got to have their turn at the opportunity for some Monday bragging rights.  The 2013 Melbourne Cup (Fiorente) was a hit for all to hold earlier this month, kindly lent to us by Jack Bongiorno, Koala Kids ambassador and generous supporter.

Koala Kids has bought lots of happiness into the Children’s Cancer Centre at The Royal Children’s Hospital since commencing our long awaited weekend program in July.  On the first weekend of each month happy t-shirt clad Koala Kids volunteers have provided activities and served scrumptious fare for the families and staff on Kookaburra and surrounding wards

Warmest thanks to Treat Catering for delivering the most delicious picnic lunch of fresh sandwiches, macaroons, slices, muffins and fresh fruit each Saturday.  In what is an incredibly generous gesture the team from Treat makes sure nobody goes without and families and staff enjoy boxing up their lunch and taking it back to their rooms and desks, or on particularly sunny days, have been able to enjoy eating outside.

And then Sunday we have been turning the usually quiet family room into Koala Kids Pizza Parlour, topping and cooking more than 70 pizzas for the families and staff.  It has been such a joy to see otherwise listless children hatting and gloving up to produce pizzas of their choice.

Next month, with the support of Wilton’s Cookies, the children and their families will be decorating gingerbread houses.

Warm and very special thanks to Piero Sgarioto and his team at Della Rosa Fine Foods for their incredibly generous support and to Treat Catering for picking up the food from Campbellfield.

Special thanks to Rossini, Coup-on-a-Box and Complete Food Services too for donating our pizza boxes and to all of our passionate and enthusiastic volunteers who have ensured that the weekend is filled with smiles and positive energy to distract the families and staff.

Kaboom Sports has had lots of kids out of bed and jumping around, throwing soft darts at a human dartboard, hoisting spongey javelins as high as the ceiling and dancing to the sounds of the air guitars.

ARTS ARE A RIGHT NOT A PRIVILEGE

Over the past 12 months Koala Kids was able to gift many families the opportunity to enjoy some wonderful performances in relaxed sessions and we have been confirmed as a community partner of Arts Centre Melbourne, for the second consecutive year.  The First Call Fund provides support specifically to schools and community groups so they can experience the huge variety of live performances, workshops and other participatory events at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Arts Centre Melbourne strives to improve access to the Arts for everyone.  “The arts can broaden our experience, our empathy and our understanding of the world. Arts Centre Melbourne believes everyone has the right to experience the wonder of the arts. In particular, students, young people and those with social disadvantage can benefit greatly from exposure to the arts. International research* shows arts participation can impact positively on:

  • Social and personal development
  • Attitude to learning
  • Connectedness to community and family
  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Arts knowledge and skills
  • General competencies such as communicating, problem solving, planning, organisation and perseverance.

*Dr Mary Ann Hunter (2005) Education and the Arts, Australia Council for the Arts

https://www.artscentremelbourne.com.au/en/Community/Community-Partner-Program/First-Call-Fund

AROUND THE SCHOOLS

Koala Kids recently received generous donations from Camberwell Grammar, St Vincents de Paul Catholic Primary and Wodonga and Mentone Primary Schools totaling more than $6,500. With the exception of Camberwell Grammar, in each case a child in the school community had been treated for cancer.

Camberwell Grammar held its sixth annual Koala Kids fundraiser with more than 450 middle school students running/walking doing laps around the block on a lovely Spring day.  We were presented with a cheque for more than $4,400 making the total of more than $30,000 raised by the same year levels over the past six years.

Koala Kids was voted unanimously by the SRC at St Vincents de Paul Primary School to be the recipient of funds raised from Footy Colours Day of more than $1,000.  The school, which coincidentally has had two young students undergo cancer treatment, has been supporting Koala Kids for more than five years since year 3 teacher Connie Di Maio shared her own adolescent cancer journey with her students.

Connie recently returned to teaching, at St Anne’s Primary in Sunbury after having two baby boys over the past three years. Connie has remained a volunteer with Koala Kids, managing the Koala Kids Superhero program for children and young people attending Peter Mac for radiotherapy.

Mentone Primary School raised $500 in memory of Gracie (aka Gracie’s Shoebox program).  Gracie came up with the idea of filling shoeboxes with things for children to do while spending time in hospital.  See Gracies Shoeboxes for more information.

Wodonga Primary School raised funds on one of its casual clothes days to celebrate one of its students who had spent most of the year in Melbourne undergoing cancer treatment.

 

Our schools program is not just about fundraising and we relish the opportunity to go into a school and talk about the important support we provide children and young people and their families during treatment.

 

We went to Wesley College, Prahran campus to thank the year 4 students for the Gracies Shoeboxes they had filled with craft and other items to distract young students during treatment.  We are returning shortly to address the year fives and sixes who donated Gracies shoeboxes too.

Koala Kids Jess Bucci spoke at a year 8 leaders’ forum at MLC, Kew.  Despite early nerves Jess quickly grew comfortable and shared lots of fabulous Koala Kids stories with the students before answering dozens of questions.

Koala Kids schools program is gathering momentum, engaging primary and secondary students in volunteering opportunities and the support we provide children and young people during cancer treatment and their families.

NEW VOLUNTEERS – SPRING 2018

Since expanding our activities at The Royal Children’s Hospital we have attracted some fabulous professional people who work full time during the week and are looking for meaningful volunteering on the weekend.  We have enjoyed welcoming Laura Diaco, Christina Barsom, Georgia Cooper and Rosemary McGinn recently

Laura Diaco found Koala Kids on Instagram and is a perfect fit for our organization. At the age of 19, she was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and knows first-hand the power of positive distractions.  Laura is looking forward to being able to support others with the hindsight of her own experiences.  Working full time during the week as a nurse at Epworth Hospital Laura is looking forward to interacting with children and their families on Koala Kids weekends at The Royal Children’s Hospital.

Christina Barsom joined Koala Kids with previous volunteer experience at Ronald McDonald House and teaching Sunday school. She met her fiancé when they were both working at Westpac.  Mark was our bank manager at the Camberwell branch and has watched Koala Kids grow since becoming an independent not for profit more than three years ago. Christina enjoyed hearing about the support we provide children and families during cancer treatment and has joined us to volunteer at our weekends in the Kookaburra ward.

Georgia Cooper is an occupational therapist who works at Dandenong Hospital in hand therapy.  Like Christina and Laura, Georgia is passionate, enthusiastic and loves working with children.  She is a welcome and fabulous addition to our weekend team.

Rosemary McGinn is a wonderful new volunteer who indirectly has a long association with Koala Kids.  When Rosemary’s grandson Ben, now 21 years, had Leukemia when he was three, Rosemary’s son Tony McGinn founded Koala Foundation.  Koala Kids evolved out of Koala Foundation and Children’s Cancer Centre some years later and Ben and Rosemary are both volunteers and Ben’s mother Amanda and brother Nick aren’t far away either.

Indu Sondhi joined Koala Kids a few months ago after her daughter Elisha successfully completed her cancer treatment.  Indu and her family, including Alisha’s two big brothers, enjoyed many small things that Koala Kids provides families during treatment.  Indu is sharing her professional experience in IT by helping to create and manage our database.

Koala Kids can now offer volunteering opportunities seven days a week, in our office and at the hospitals where we work. We are particularly looking for people who are available on Monday mornings to volunteer at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Wednesday morning at Peter Mac and in the office on Thursday and Friday.

There is a role for everyone at Koala Kids, or nearly everyone!! Judy Potter is a classic example. Judy loves sewing and she has been happily visiting Spotlight and buying up novelty fabrics and sewing them into theatre gowns for children having to undergo procedures under unaesthetic. As we were going to press (!) Judy was cutting and sewing Christmas designs for gowns for children to choose from during the festive period. As quickly as Judy can sew the gowns and her daughter Heather Kerr (of the infamous large Kerr-ala family) drops them off at our office, we have been sending them out to all the hospitals.

If you know someone who would like to be considered to join our team please ask them to contact us happyhelps@koalakids.org.au

ORORA SERVES UP A TREAT

Ben McGinn, intern at Orora invited Koala Kids to morning tea last week to share our story with the Orora team at the Hawthorn head office.

Ben has been associated with Koala Kids for most of his life and was proud to introduce our organization to his colleagues.

Orora Group invites its employees to bake for the morning tea party each monthly and Mandy Mandie, program director Koala Kids Foundation, was asked to judge the winners.  Orora donated more than $1,000 to Koala Kids from sales of its weekly football tickets to Orora employees, not taken up by suppliers.

YOUNG FUNDRAISERS

Koala Kids is warmly appreciative of a group of young fundraisers who asked family and friends to make donations to our Foundation in lieu of gifts at their birthdays – Carter Graham, Aleggra Gorog and Ashley Katz.

Carter Graham in celebration of his 13th birthday invited guests of his Bar Mitzvah party to donate to Koala Kids in lieu of gifts.

Aleggra Gorog (aged 10)  and Ashley Katz (9 years) both learned about Koala Kids during Pitch for Change, Kids in Philanthropy’s initiative in March that provided young students hands-on volunteering experience with six different not for profits.

 

The 24 families in Upper Kinder (Aleph) class at Gandel Besen House have collectively donated $1440 to each of Koala Kids Foundation and another charity in lieu of buying each other’s’ children birthday presents during the year.

Mandy Mandie, program director spoke to the young students and explained the different things Koala Kids will be buying the children and young people and their families to enjoy during cancer treatment with the money. She reminded each of them to think about how happy they have made a sick child when celebrating their own birthdays!