51 deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind West Australian students joined a special camp in the last term of 2014 to help them get ready to move to secondary school this year. The camp brought together children from metro areas and country areas such as Bunbury, Collie, Kalgoorlie and Esperance. DCA was pleased to be able to provide DCA Family Support Worker Alice Brennan to assist on the camp.
The WA Department of Education’s School of Special Educational Needs: Sensory hosted the camp at Woodman Point, south of Perth. Stewart Carter, a visiting teacher with the school, said: “Students with hearing loss have some special considerations that need to be addressed in the move. Many of them are in mainstream primary schools and often, they are the only student in their school with a hearing loss. This camp was one of the few opportunities where the students got together, met each other – and realised they’re not the only person in the world with their particular special needs.”
Some current Year 8 students who are deaf and hard of hearing joined the camp to share their experiences. Eighteen support staff, including educational interpreters and carers and DCA’s Alice Brennan helped the students as they tackled a range of adventure activities from rock climbing to flying fox, archery and orienteering.
Stewart Carter wrote to DCA after the camp to say: “On behalf of all the students and staff involved in the YAC 2014 WAIDE camp, I would like to thank you for your wonderful support. It is only the generosity of organisations such as DCA that make activities like the YAC 2014 WAIDE camp possible.
I also wanted to let you know that DCA’s representative on the camp, Alice, was a fantastic addition to the camp. During meal times, rather than sit at the leader’s table, Alice took it upon herself to sit with different students and engage them in conversation. In this way, the students felt comfortable in asking Alice about her experiences growing up with a hearing loss and how she found transitioning to high school.
During the orienteering activity, one of the students was eager to run the course. Even though it was close to 30oC, Alice was the first leader to volunteer to run with him.
Alice’s presentation to the group on Thursday evening was excellent. Even though all the children were very tired from a long day of activities, they were all riveted. Her mix of kindness, enthusiasm and knowledge made her extremely valuable on camp.”
The students’ comments at the end of the camp included:
- “I wanted to stay for longer”
- “It was fun to know I’m not the only one who feels like me”
- “I would love to come back again”
- “The best part was making friends that I know will be my friends forever”
- “It was very fun and exciting. I was nervous at first but because of the friendly adults and kids, it changed that”
- “It was brilliant and I will hope to come back next year.”