Last weekend saw the launch of Kookaburra Kids holding their first respite and mental health education camp program in the Newcastle and Hunter region.
The pilot camp was made possible by a $20,000 grant from Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, supporting local children from the Hunter regions who are living in families affected by mental illness.
Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation Executive Officer, Graham Batten said the Foundation was proud to support Kookaburra Kids to bring such an important program to the Hunter for the benefit of regional young people.
“Children living in regional areas with a family member affected by mental illness should have access to services and support to allow them to live a normal, and fun, life.”
The camp which ran over the weekend saw 24 children attend their very first Kookaburra Kids camp…and they certainly had fun.
From the moment the kids arrived at camp they were encouraged to have fun and to be kids. Activities on the weekend ranged from team building games, having a turn on the Giant Swing and learning how to sail.
Each day the kids also participated in Kookaburra Kids’ “Chat Group”. Chat Group is a central part of Kookaburra Kids camp, providing an opportunity to learn about mental illness and how it affects families, share their experiences, discover and improve their coping skills and resilience, and meet other children living in similar family circumstances.
Kookaburra Kids CEO Pam Brown said Chat Group provides a place where kids can feel safe to talk about their parent’s illness without the fear of being judged.
“Many of these kids have never spoken to anyone about their parent’s illness. At camp, they meet other kids who are living in similar situations, reducing feelings of isolation and of being different”.
The camps are about supporting kids to be kids.
A new family participating in the Kookaburra Kids camp program said “Thank you very much for the camp. I’m so happy for my children, they came home with massive smiles and stories to tell and made new friends. Camp absolutely made their weekend, it was such a great break for them to be themselves and to be kids.”
Following the success of this camp Kookaburra Kids is looking at opening a local office and is also looking for people to volunteer with the organisation.
Children can be referred to the program online at kookaburrakids.org.au.
For more information or to get involved phone Suzy on (02) 9525 7474 or email [email protected]