Volunteers from six schools got together to provide a happy weekend for 34children with severe disabilities.
MR PINO CUTINELLI – HEAD OF MIDDLE SCHOOL
Nearly 50 Year 12 students from six schools, along with staff and parents, participated in a holiday camp at Scotch last December for children with severe disabilities.
TONY CRAWFORD ('11) AND FRIEND AT THE SONY FOUNDATION STAR CAMP HELD AT SCOTCH IN DECEMBER
The camp, sponsored by Sony Foundation Australia, ran for three days from Saturday 17 December to Monday 19 December in the boarding precinct at Scotch, giving parents of special needs children a welcome break just before Christmas. Some parents commented that this was the first time they had spent away from their children since the children were born.
The 48 Year 12 boys and girls gave up their holiday time to act as ‘Companions’ to the 34 children in the camp, who were called ‘Campers’. In addition, 72 volunteer academic and non-teaching staff from all of the schools, provided guidance to the Companions during the camp.
Each school was asked to provide two doctors and two nurses – volunteers from among their parent bodies – who provided 24-hour medical assistance to the Campers, including administering medication, with the reading room in School House set up as a medical centre.
The camp was an excellent opportunity for Companions and Campers to get to know one another, have fun, and for the Campers to enjoy a wonderful experience.
Twenty Sony Star Camps are held in Australia each year, but this is the only one of its type in Victoria. The Sony Foundation contributes some funds, but to be viable the camp relies on the participation of volunteers and the generosity of the schools to provide the activities and facilities. This is where Scotch stepped in.
As well as Scotch, Genazzano, Sacre Coeur, Loreto, Xavier and St Kevin’s participated in the camp, each school providing eight volunteer Year 12 students who acted as carers for the disabled children during the three days. The students attended a training day with experts in the field in preparation for their duties.
The children, nominated by Yooralla Victoria, came from Bendigo, Dandenong and inner-city Melbourne. Their ages ranged from six to 14 years, and most required intensive, high level care from the Companions, with some Campers requiring two Companions to look after them because of their severe disabilities.
Program activities, coordinated by Scotch staff, included a Sony Star Fair, which offered pony rides, face painting, cup and saucer rides, a trackless train driver and a puppet show. There was also swimming in the Glenn Centre, a disco and an excursion to the Melbourne Zoo, story-telling by a group of Scotch Junior School staff, a handball competition organised by OSCA and hosted by Jamie Macmillan (’09) of North Melbourne Football Club, and a visit from Santa on day three, with specially organised gifts for Campers just before pick-up by their parents.
During the three days, the Year 12 boys and girls were challenged beyond their limits, and were confronted with situations that really made them appreciate how fortunate they were. They had to help the children in all their activities, to ensure they had an enjoyable time just before Christmas, as well as providing respite care for their parents. The camp was a great success, a highly inspirational three days for everyone involved, and a salient reminder of what Christmas is all about.
The Year 12 boys and girls were an amazing group of young people who gave up their time and patience during the three days, participating in an experience that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. One of the boys, Francis Ha, described the experience as ‘challenging yet definitely fulfilling’. He said: ‘While we came to recognise how fortunate we are, we also have a responsibility to ensure that those who are perhaps less fortunate receive the same opportunities that we often take for granted’.
Another Year 12 boy, Tony Crawford said: ‘What struck me about Star Camp was that we came to school in Year 7 and couldn’t look after ourselves; and our final days of school were spent looking after a child who required 100 per cent care. It brought home to me what Scotch had done for us, and how we had matured through the system.’
Junior School staff member Ben Marr said the camp was a great experience for the Scotch volunteers. ‘We assisted the Year 12 Companions, whose care for their campers was first rate. Scotch should be very proud of the Year 12 boys chosen for the event.’
A segment about the camp was included in Channel 10’s The Project on Wednesday 21 December.
North Melbourne Footballer Jamie Macmillan ('09) with other camp volunteers
Tim Fairley ('11) and his camp buddy
Pino Cutinelli (Convenor), David Skelt, Jocelyn Pride, Catherine Garrett , Durga Kamte, Annie Macrae, Andrew Strempel, Ben Marr, Cheryl Harrison, Margie McDonough, Kelly Sharp, John Croxford, James deRozario, Grant Watson, Graham Bradbeer.
Tania Brendel, Greg McMahon, Sara Cuming, Ian Gelling, Bill Sciarretta, Mick Smith, Tim Shearer
Tony Crawford, Tim Fairley, Tom Keep, Francis Ha, Andrew Elder, Sam Shaw, Jack Brennan, Brandon Leong
Mrs Megan Brown (nurse), Mrs Helen Kent (nurse), Dr David Polmear (GP), Dr Anuradha Aggarwal (GP)
Jamie Macmillan (’09)
Boarding precinct – School House, McMeckan House, Dining Hall, Shergold Building, Boarders’ Lawn, Boarders’ Annexe; Glenn Centre pool.
Scotch College: ABN 86 852 826 445 ACN 005 650 395 CRICOS 00624A (Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students)