Charity the KIDS Foundation sets up camp ties in Port Macquarie

Happy campers: The group of survivors and volunteers in Port Macquarie at the weekend. Photo: Matt Attard
Happy campers: The group of survivors and volunteers in Port Macquarie at the weekend. Photo: Matt Attard

CHILDREN’S charity the KIDS Foundation has used Port Macquarie as the location for a special camp.

The foundation is a leading injury prevention and injury recovery organisation that directly reaches more than 30,000 children each year.

They predominantly look after children that have been seriously injured in accidents, mainly burns.

Recovery camps aim to prevent the psychological effects, like post traumatic syndrome, that children often get after they have been involved in a serious incident.

Each February Port Macquarie will be a hub for the group thanks to a grant from Commonwealth Bank.

Susie O’Neill, managing director of the KIDS Foundation, said despite being based in Victoria the organisation has a link to Port Macquarie.

Park fun: Kane Leary, Fletcher and Spencer Connolly and volunteer Vanessa Fantela. Photo: Matt Attard

Park fun: Kane Leary, Fletcher and Spencer Connolly and volunteer Vanessa Fantela. Photo: Matt Attard

“We were the preferred charity for the Ironman event in Port Macquarie for a decade,” she said.

“We have had a lot of our programs in the kindergartens up here, and more recently have received a grant which will allow us to run the camp in Port for the next three years.”

Their recent trip was a huge success, staying at Port Macquarie Breakwall Holiday Park near Town Beach.

Children and volunteers spent time at the water park, visited Ricardoes Tomatoes to pick strawberries and enjoyed the nearby facilities.

“We bring along a team of professionals including psychologists, medical professionals and play therapists,” Mrs O’Neill said.

“We can work with the children behind the scenes on coping mechanisms, but the thing they get the most out of the camp is meeting other children in a similar situation.

“They get to share experiences and have solutions for those not coping so well.”

Susie O'Neill, Leanne Smith, David George and Bec Ritter.

Susie O'Neill, Leanne Smith, David George and Bec Ritter.

The organisation has around 200 survivors and family members currently receiving help, and more than 200 volunteers.

Special programs for the siblings and parents of the children are available and word of mouth continues to put the great work they do in the spotlight.

“It is extremely rewarding. Some of the children have been with us for a very long time, and one of them has been with us for 18 years,” she said.

“A few of our survivors have fallen in love with volunteers and have married, so they come back and help with the next generation I suppose.

“It helps so much to give the children confidence to do a lot of things that they may have otherwise never done.”

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