23 September 2022

A chance for families of kids with cancer to have fun these holidays

| Chris Roe
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Kids in boats

Unable to hold their annual camp, Country Hope will hold family fun days these school holidays for families dealing with serious childhood illnesses. Photo: Country Hope.

After being unable to host their annual ‘Time Out For Life’ Holiday Camp for the past couple of years, the team at Country Hope are planning a couple of ‘Family Fun Days’ for families with children battling serious illnesses.

Country Hope is a not-for-profit charity supporting families across regional NSW with kids undergoing treatment for cancer or other life-threatening diseases.

“Pre-COVID we would have our holiday camps for diagnosed children from 7 to 16 and their siblings,” explains fundraising and events coordinator Simon Barton.

“We go away for a week of fun activities, food, all that sort of stuff.

“Basically it’s like a respite holiday, and some time to just be kids and have fun and not think about sickness and all the other stuff.”

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With COVID-19 still a serious risk for the immunocompromised, the Country Hope team decided to take a different approach.

“It’s been two years, almost three years since we’ve actually been able to provide something, so we went with the Family Fun Day idea because it was a bit safer in terms of that COVID risk,” Simon says.

“This is a sort of a compromise where we can still provide that same sort of fun and activities for children and families that really need it.”

Kids on camp

Country Hope’s last camp was held in 2019. Photo: Country Hope.

The Family Fun Days will take place next week at Mater Dei Primary School, with around 100 family members celebrating a much-needed day out.

“We’ve got show rides, all sorts of different sorts of foods, sports activities and crafts, with the pottery club coming to do some pottery with the kids,” he says.

“There’s a photo booth, a DJ, a petting zoo – all sorts of things.

“It’s really about entertaining the kids and having a lot of fun for the two days.”

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While he now works full-time with Country Hope, Simon has been volunteering with the organisation since 2007 and says their aim is to support families in any way they can.

“All the support services we provide are designed to support the whole family,” he says.

“We don’t have a set list of the things that we will help with, it really depends on what the family needs.

“Sometimes it could be putting tires on the car because they’re doing 5000-plus kilometres a month going backwards and forwards for treatment. It can be such a wide range of things.”

Simon says they are always looking for support and raise funds each year through a broad variety of in-house and third-party events like the ‘Redneck Rallies’.

Unfortunately, this year’s Redneck River Run was cancelled due to the high river and ongoing flood warnings, but Simon is hoping the community will get behind their annual Country Hope Mega Raffle.

Next year’s Riverina Car Rally is also looking for teams to enter and this time, the Redneck Car Rally is running from Trundle to Temora over five days in March.

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