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.

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!

NATIONAL SIMULTANEOUS STORYTIME

Koala Kids took the National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) program to the nine regional hospitals on Wednesday 23 May at 11am – adding another 100+ young readers to the initiative.

Hickory Dickory Dash, the 2018 book was written by Tony Wilson, illustrated by Laura Wood and published and donated to Koala Kids by Scholastic.

NSS, now in its 18th year, is an annual campaign that aims to encourage more young Australians to read and enjoy books.  It is a colourful, vibrant, fun event that aims to promote the value of reading and literacy, this year using an Australian children’s book that explores age-appropriate themes, and addresses key learning areas of the National Curriculum for Foundation to Year 6.

KOALA KIDS INTERN PROGRAM

We are proud of our growing intern program, attracting secondary and tertiary students with a range of interests from Melbourne University, GTRS, Lauriston Girls School and De La Salle, Malvern.

Haresh (aka Harry) has joined us for four months to manage our volunteer applications and hospital registrations. Amanda Ang completed her internship which she undertook as a unit in her psychology major to complete her arts degree. Amanda enjoyed being exposed to lots of different aspects of Koala Kids and having endeared herself to our Monday team we are all tickled pink that she wants to stay on as a regular volunteer.

Four Lauriston girls are completing their Lauriston Honors program at Koala Kids.  The VCE students are being exposed to many areas including writing blogs for our website and other hands-on tasks to enhance their appreciation of the support we provide families in the cancer centres.

This week we welcomed Zara Carter, Ellie Johns and Natalia Oberoi-Kearney starting their Duke of Edinburgh Blue community experience and year 9 student James Suffolk is working in the office each Tuesday this term as part of De La Salle’s companionship program .

NEW VOLUNTEERS – MAY 2018

Koala Kids fast growing volunteer network is as diverse in culture as it is in age and experience.

We welcome our newest volunteers Emma Barham, Zoe Potter, Hassan (aka Hass) Bakkar, Patrick (aka Paddy) Kerr, Allie Veal,  Georgie Landale, Olivia Henderson, Lorrie Pennefather and Felicity Carter.

Emma Barham

Emma is our new volunteer at Peter Mac. She is facilitating activities with the children attending the paediatric radiotherapy service clinic each Wednesday morning with Stef, music therapist.  Emma herself spent very long periods in hospital as a child, and thus has an understanding and personal compassion for sick children

Last year Emma, a Gennazano student was a recipient of the Premier’s VCE Awards, recognised as a top performing student for her outstanding academic achievement.

Emma is a positive and enthusiastic person who hopes to be a paediatric oncologist in the future.

Zoe Potter

Zoe is one of our registered volunteers at The Royal Children’s Hospital, and is a great addition to our bubbly Monday morning team. She studies Commerce at Melbourne University, majoring in management and marketing, as well as coaching junior netball in her spare time.

Hass Bakkar

Hass is a professional tennis player who joined Koala Kids to volunteer in Hospitals. Hass played tennis internationally throughout his secondary schooling years, educating himself online. Through his career he has helped coach and develop young players who see him as a role model, and he hopes to use his positive energy and charisma to make happy help children with cancer.

Patrick Kerr

Paddy had a huge week last week. After debuting for Carlton FC on Sunday, he enjoyed his first Monday with our team at The Royal Children’s Hospital.

Paddy is not the first in his family to volunteer with Koala Kids either – he joins his grandmother Judy Potter, aunties Judy Mullen and Linda Kerr, cousins Grace Kerr, Sophie and Jack Mullen and Jeanne Mitchell as well as his sister Ruby.  Might consider renaming us Kerr-ala Kids!

Allie Veall

Allie joined Koala Kids to volunteer at The Royal Children’s Hospital and Monash Children’s Hospital. She is also getting involved with our events committee. Balancing her marketing degree, running her own business and volunteering with Koala Kids, it is clear that Allie is a driven, motivated and caring person.

Georgie Landale

While managing her own catering business, Georgie has registered as a visiting volunteer at Monash with Koala Kids. With a lengthy nannying and babysitting resume, we are sure that Georgie will be a delightful addition to both Koala Kids and to the Monash Children’s Cancer Centre.

Olivia Henderson

Liv joined Koala Kids through our partnership with Carnival for Kids, program partner of our school holiday program. Olivia is studying nursing and is looking forward to facilitating school holiday activities at Monash and volunteering with Koala Kids thereafter.

Lorrie Pennefather

Lorrie has an extensive background in events and catering, and has joined our team as a volunteer at both RCH & Monash Children’s Hospital. Lorrie is extremely well travelled and intelligent, as well as kind hearted and giving, making her a perfect match for Koala Kids.

Felicity Carter

Felicity is a good friend of our program director, Mandy Mandie, and has decided to lend a helping hand in the office, as well as volunteering at our wrap bar for Mother’s Day. With a giving and generous nature, Felicity offers help wherever required no matter how medial the task may be.

KOALA KIDS ON THE FRONT LINE AT THE ROYAL CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

Koala Kids volunteers visit patients and families in the Kookaburra ward and Children’s Cancer Centre at the RCH nearly every Monday morning.

Our volunteers registered on the hospital’s Visiting Volunteer Program distribute themed creativity kits filled with activities and stationery designed to distract the children and young people during treatment and long hospital stays.  The volunteers also visit children having cancer treatment outside Kookaburra when it is full and check in, as often as possible, with each of the Nurse Unit Managers to restock Koala Kids Happy Tubs, 60L orange plastic tubs filled with donated activities, books and other items for all ages including parents – more distraction to pass the time and relieve the boredom.

NETWORK TEN BELIEVES HAPPY HELPS

We are delighted to announce our new partnership with Network Ten’s workplace giving program, TEN Gives.

Both Koala Kids and TEN Gives are looking forward to working together to achieve our vision to touch every child and young person undergoing cancer treatment.

Launched in October 2014, TEN Gives harnesses the time, talent and enthusiasm of Network Ten staff to support the most creative, innovative and phenomenal charity organisations that help disadvantaged young people.

TEN Gives aims to build a powerful, measurable and highly effective relationship with Koala Kids to further its mission to provide small things that make a difference to the lives of children and young people and their families during cancer treatment in the Children’s Cancer Centres at The Royal Children’s Hospital and Monash Children’s Hospital, as well as at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and nine treatment hospitals around regional Victoria.

Koala Kids believe happy helps and TEN Gives does too. Together, we hope to bring lots of happiness to children and young people undergoing cancer treatment.

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

11051858_914452448607099_384008273431359417_o
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