Published on: 22 January 2013

2013 graduates from Christ Church and Methodist Ladies’ College returned to the School in December to help run the Sony Foundation Children’s Holiday Camp. The three-day camp gives students an opportunity to care for a child with special needs – treating them to a weekend of fun activities and providing some much needed respite for parents, siblings and primary carers.

The 31 student companions and assistants, supported by a big team of volunteer Christ Church staff, were responsible for the care of 17 children over the course of the camp and quickly learnt about the challenges and demands involved in caring for a child with special needs.

Director of the Residential Community Geoff Guggenheimer, who co-ordinated the camp, said it was an intensive 60-hour experience for many of the students. He said this year’s campers included one child in a wheelchair and another, who suffered from daily seizures.

“Some students got hardly any sleep and all were exhausted by the end. It was great to see these 17-year-olds really appreciate the demands of caring for these children and the respect they developed for their parents and the kids themselves who live this way day in, day out,” Mr Guggenheimer said.

The children enjoyed a fun-filled weekend of activities including pool games, a disco and karaoke night, a ‘kids in bubbles’ session, a fire truck visit as well as music, art, design and technology activities. This year’s program also included a beach session with the WA Disabled Surfing Association, which was a highlight for all participants. The camp finished with a Christmas lunch, including the children’s parents, along with a visit from Father Christmas.

Christ Church sought applications from families at various special needs schools and centres across Perth targeting families in most need of respite this year. It is the seventh year Christ Church has run the camp.

Mr Guggenheimer said the camp would not have been possible without Preparatory Peter Moyes Centre Co-ordinator Lisa Broxton, Clinical Nurse Manager Joanna Simpson and her nursing team, program co-ordinator Lucy Myles and other Christ Church teachers and staff, who volunteered their time.