Mother’s Day Book Club in the Kookaburra Ward at The Royal Children’s Hospital

Callum shows off his creative bag he made for his mum, which he later filled with small gifts for her to enjoy on Sunday!

Book Club in May was all about Mothers

KOALA Kids’ volunteers Carly Velik and Grace Kerr worked the Royal Children’s Hospital Education Institute’s early learning educator Sonja Fea to facilitate a gorgeous Mother’s Day book club for the kids in the Kookaburra Ward at The Royal Children’s Hospital. We all enjoyed the lovely warm stories about mothers and their babies, the human and fuzzy ones,  before the kids made and decorated their own Mother’s Day bags in which to hide their gifts in. Callum and Logan got creative with their bags, and had to make sure mum wasn’t peaking at it during the session.
Warmest thanks to Hinkler, Lake Press and Scholastic Australia for their generous donations to KOALA Kids mother’s day libraries, available for families to enjoy for the month of May.

Words By Grace Kerr
Monday Program Coordinator


Each year KOALA Kids is fortunate to interest a small number of university students seeking work experience in the not for profit space and the opportunity to ‘give back and do for others’.

Last year four particularly enthusiastic students joined the KOALA Kids team of volunteers. Jo Hutton, Lily Johnson, Sophie Mullen and Grace Kerr. Each of the full time university students bought their own set of skills to the program and were keen to use in support of the KOALA Kids activities. Alison Brown, commerce student who had written KOALA Kids newsletters in 2013 was travelling overseas during most of 2014 returning late last year in to resume her role.  Ali wrote the current summer newsletter.

Each of the interns have been exemplary in their effort, juggling studies with their family and social lives and their KOALA Kids commitments.

Late last year Mandy Mandie, program director KOALA Kids announced university intern, Grace Kerr the inaugural KOALA Kids volunteer of the year, 2014. Grace was chosen for her outstanding commitment to KOALA Kids Monday morning program at The Royal Children’s Hospital and her involvement in the social media and events sub-committees.

Grace at our Australia Day themed Morning Tea Party
Grace at our Australia Day themed Morning Tea Party

“Grace’s award is not to say that every single KOALA Kids volunteer is not worthy of the same. However the enthusiasm with which Grace embraced the responsibility for the coordination and support of the weekly activities at the hospital is commendable. Grace endears everyone she meets from Merridy Justice and Mary McGowan in the Kookaburra ward and Day Cancer Centre at The Royal Children’s Hospital’s Children’s Cancer Centre to Neridah McMullen, KOALA Kids book club coordinator and Sonia Nedovic, RCH Education Institute early learning educator.  20 year old Grace, public relations student at RMIT welcomes and greets families and children in treatment each week at the pizza making session, the morning tea party and other specialist volunteer activities.

Grace’s enthusiasm to get involved in many aspects of the program at the hospitals and in the office is a reflection on how she approaches life – her family, her studies and busy social life.   She works with KOALA Kids interns on the social media sub-committee, founding and writing KOALA Kids blogs and is an integral member of the events sub-committee, which included taking fabulous photos at KOALA Kids Halloween lunch at Steer Bar and Grill as well as working for the duration of the event.

Morning Tea Parties

Mandy and Volunteer Intern Grace with our orange crockery one Morning Tea
Mandy and Volunteer Intern Grace with our orange crockery one Morning Tea

With the generosity of Cooper & Milla’s Hawksburn, KOALA Kids volunteers were able to serve a delicious Christmas morning tea party to CCC families on the Kookaburra ward.  The monthly morning tea parties have been a huge hit this year as families including mothers, fathers, aunties and grandparents enjoy the company of others, outside of the social isolation of their children’s room on the ward, particularly when they are in isolation.

Ali, Sophie, Grace and Linda serving food at one Morning Tea
Ali, Sophie, Grace and Linda serving food at one Morning Tea

KOALA Kids extends its special thanks to Liz and Steve Ferentinos, Cooper & Milla’s Hawksburn and Cate and Alex at The Rose Street Trading Co for their generous support of this program.

Comments like “Ah – just what I needed ” and “You’ve made my day” tell us we are on the right track!

Pizza Mondays at the Royal Children’s Hospital

Volunteer La delivering a pizza to a room in the Kookaburra Ward!
Volunteer La delivering a pizza to a room in the Kookaburra Ward!

I know if we asked the KOALA Kids volunteers what one of their highlights of 2014 has been, they will agree that the monthly morning tea parties and pizza making would rank close to the top.  Being greeted with comments like, “You’ve made my day” and “Favourite day of the month” is assurance that we are on the right page.

Mothers and daughters making pizzas together, teenagers choosing their favourite toppings and cooking their pizzas and watching families enjoy lunch with others is a privilege for KOALA Kids to have provided.
Gracie and her Mum Nicky making themselves a pizza!
Gracie and her Mum Nicky making themselves a pizza!

Piero Sgariato from Della Rosa Pizza has been stellar in his support, each month bringing with him portable pizza ovens, pizza bases and containers filled with the most popular toppings, all chopped, cut and ready to go.  Special thanks to Piero and his colleague Lidia for their time and the spirit with which they have delivered a yummy pizza activity all year.

Piero and his girls helping make the yummy pizzas!
Piero and his girls helping make the yummy pizzas!

Our Monday Book Club Had The Kids Going Croc- Crazy!

KOALA Kids September book club was an exciting one with visiting author Diana Lawrenson, read the children at the Royal Children’s Cancer Centre two of her books!

After listening to ‘Crocodile River’ a picture book about a salt water croc named Cranky who struggles through the cycle of growing up as a croc and the fight for survival the group was able to touch real crocodile eggs and teeth that Diana had bought in with her.  They were then able to create crocodile jaws using art material provided by KOALA Kids.ff

After Diana read ‘Paraphernalia’s Present’ wearing her chook’s hat, the children enjoyed more activities

Warmest thanks Diana for your time and enthusiasm, adding to the richness of KOALA Kids literacy program!

KOALA Kids is sure that the children at Monash Children’s Cancer Centre enjoy your visit and have just as much fun when you visit next Wednesday.

You can view more of Diana and Diana’s books on her website by clicking here.

Diana Lawrenson RCH