An Amazing Experience

July 14, 2014

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Variety – the Children’s Charity, is well known for its famous Christmas Party which annually brings joy to around 5,000 disadvantaged children in Victoria each December. The party is just one of the many and diverse events organised throughout the year by the hardworking team at Variety and their sponsors, which fundraise or directly support many thousands of disadvantaged children Australia wide.

The annual Northern Territory Goanna Park Adventure Camps, run by Variety – the Children’s Charity Northern Territory – Tent 82, are just such an event.

Each year, Tent 82 runs the Adventure Camps for children with special needs from around Australia and invites each state to nominate 6 children to attend. As part of the adventure experience, children sleep in large screened tents and participate in various activities such as abseiling, motor bike riding, fish feeding, horse riding and go-kart racing. The Goanna Park Adventure Camp program is designed to assist participants gain self-esteem and confidence, to challenge their comfort zones, develop life skills and promote friendships with other participants with whom they can empathize.

IOE was asked by Variety to nominate a participant to attend the camp and selected 13 year old Lana Wheatfill. The nomination was successful and Lana was one of the lucky few who were chosen for this year’s June 28 – July 5 camp. After an amazing 8 day adventure, Lana and her IOE Support Worker Meaghan Finlayson, have returned home. Lana’s parents have generously agreed to share their thoughts in the following letter.

“Recently our daughter, Lana and her support worker, Meaghan, were lucky to have the opportunity to attend the 2014 Variety Kids Camp at Goanna Park in Darwin. They spent 8 days there with people they had never previously met … and had no idea what to expect. As parents, we were grateful that Lana had been given this opportunity to foster independence, confidence, self esteem and also the attitude that, no matter what challenges are put in her path, she can do anything. We were thrilled that Meaghan was able to attend with her as a support worker/mentor. Meaghan is a fabulous young woman, and we can’t thank her enough for supporting Lana on this trip.

Words cannot adequately express how we feel about the opportunity Lana has been given by Variety – the Children’s Charity. Our journey over the past 6 – 7 years with two children with ASD has been difficult (to put it mildly), but also incredibly rewarding and life changing (both positive and negative) Often we have been alone in our caring for Lana and her brother Flynn and the isolation and anxiety that this caused was profound. Then we started to receive support and assistance from a large number of organisations and we continue to be amazed at the wonderful support and help that is available to us. In particular, the support from Interchange Outer East has been nothing short of life changing.

To then be blessed with this opportunity, that both Variety Victoria and Interchange have given to Lana through this trip, has been nothing short of fantastic. This short letter cannot fully articulate our gratitude and thanks for providing Lana the chance to learn new skills and have experiences that we cannot currently give her.

We would like you to please pass on our thanks to all of the wonderful groups, organizations, businesses and individuals who support Variety through donations of money, time and resources. Without their wonderful commitment and support, kids like Lana could not experience these camps. To us, this trip was not just about Lana going on a holiday – we as parents could try to organise that. It was about giving her the chance, as a young individual, to experience life and adventures away from her family, to help prepare her for the years to come. This is the true value to us.

Thanks again for all of your help and support for our little family.”     Melinda Spencer & Anthony Wheatfill

To find out more about Variety, the children’s charity visit their website  Read camp comments from Lana and Meaghan at Our Awesome Holiday

by Sandra Leehy

 Lana and Meaghan NTvarietycamp_7 NTvarietycamp_6 NTvarietycamp_5 NTvarietycamp_4 NTvarietycamp_3  Varietycamp_1


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