In September, one of our Board Members, Kevin (pictured below at camp), and a recently-retired Board member, Baru – joined me as leaders at a camp for primary school aged children.
The camps are run by the Department of Health with the support of Make a Difference and our Board Members make an important contribution to the leader team. Drawn from all walks of life, the leaders are friendly and supportive and can listen sensitively to the children when they share their stories.
As these young people live in very challenging home environments, the camp aims to give them some fun and time-out from the usual demands of caring for a parent. In families where a parent (often a single parent) has a serious mental illness, ‘fun’ is often forgotten – yet it is such an important part of childhood.
These children often feel a sense of isolation, and of being the only one whose family is going through the difficulty of having a parent with a mental illness. They experience great relief to find others in the same situation, and to know that they can talk about their experiences and be understood.
The children and young people are a remarkable group. The challenges they have faced have produced outstanding qualities in them such as kindness, concern for others, and the ability to appreciate every good thing that comes their way. They have much to teach us.
Mandy Miles, CEO