Welcome to 2017! It is hard to believe we are in February already! January has been quite eventful.
We are delighted to be able to congratulate two of our research Grants in Aid recipients on their recent Australia Day honours. Professor Chris Semsarian AM and Professor Richard Harvey AM were both recognised for their services to medicine.
Both men are highly skilled in their fields, and are working tirelessly, with their teams, researching heart disease and seeking answers for our community. As friends of HeartKids we are extremely proud of their achievements.
Our other huge January event has been the National Teen camp which was held from 20 – 24 January on the beautiful Rottnest Island. The WA team hosted 110 campers and volunteers from all over Australia for a weekend of activities and relationship / friendship building.
Attendees took part in team building activities including a treasure hunt and mass rock paper scissors game. Teens enjoyed a bus tour of the island and relaxed at the beach. We spent time at the inflatable aqua park, taking selfies with quokkas, and had the opportunity to learn to ride a Segway and drive them around a specially designed course. There were also the old favourite games of spoons, Uno and a bizarre hand slapping game (the rules of which I am still trying to work out) which filled the little free time left.
We were privileged to listen to Priya Cooper OAM speak about her achievements as a para Olympic swimming gold medallist. Everyone listened to her inspirational words and stories, and enjoyed photos with her (and her medals) after her talk. Especially exciting for us was the attendance of a young camper with her own para Olympic dreams.
Teen camp was made possible by a group of young people who went above and beyond friendship in memory of a mate. When much loved camper Logan passed away in 2015, his family requested donations to HeartKids in lieu of flowers. Logan’s friends decided they wanted to do more and organised a 1000km bike ride. The Ride for Logan team wanted to raise $50 000 to fund a Teen Camp in WA. They ended up raising over $100 000 which enabled the National Teen Camp to go ahead. Logan’s friends also volunteered at camp and made sure the campers had an amazing weekend.
We are also so thankful for a generous donation from the Coca Cola Foundation which helped greatly with the funds required to facilitate such a major event.
These camps are invaluable to our teen community, and the friendships made here are further developed when they return home. The peer support network fostered is so important to teens who may not know anyone else with similar experiences, or similar scars, or similar restrictions on their every-day living.
A personal highlight was a new camper who said the best thing about teen camp was the opportunity to make new friends. When asked whether he was enjoying the activities, and he said it didn’t matter what activities he was doing, when you are with friends, you enjoy anything you do..
The team is now looking forward to our major fundraising and awareness event for the year Sweetheart Day. Look out for our photo challenge posts on social media, and please post your own! Even if you have missed the early dates, we still would love to see your pictures.
Please check out www.sweetheartday.org.au for more information on how you can get involved in this important campaign.