DCA has just held a fantastic Family Camp at The DOXA Youth Camp in Malmsbury with the support of CatholicCare who provided funding and ran workshops on positive parenting, strengthening family relationships and effective communication. Some families have told us that the impact of this camp has been enormous and has helped them make some very important decisions about how to support their children.
Eleven year old Issa Dennaoui came with his family to the camp. His father Omar said, “Issa is 11 years old and is both oral and comfortable with Auslan. He is a little behind with his speech but is very good at signing. DCA Youth Worker Matthew has been coming over to our house to help Issa with his frustration. They talk a lot and it has been really helpful. Issa is becoming calmer. We wish Issa the best in his life and we are trying to help him as much as we can. The camp has been great. The environment is relaxing and the kids are excited to run around together. We are enjoying the talks.”
Pictured: Issa Dennaoui and Matthew Norman
Nine year olds Olivia Fox and Ashlee Newell-Cran and eight year old Alexandria Ambrose may have never met but they became great friends on the camp. Olivia was teaching Auslan to Alexandria and the two of them were then teaching Alexandria’s mum. The girls said, “We like the trampoline, the archery, the loom bands and the food. Ashlee added, “It is exciting to see so many kids with hearing aids. I usually have to cover my hearing aids with my hair because it’s embarrassing. One boy at school absolutely teases me all the time about it. But it’s not like that here.”
Pictured (L – R): Ashlee Newell-Cran, Olivia Fox and Alexandria Ambrose
Olivia’s family came all the way from Hobart to attend the family camp. Her mum Shannon Fox said, “It is so good for Olivia to be with other children with a hearing loss and to be in the majority for a change, rather than feeling she is in the minority. There are no camps like this in Tasmania but we are hoping to start one. We have tried to start a Parent Support Group but it is more challenging in Tasmania where we are spread out so far. It was fantastic that the Kelly family could also come from Tasmania. We do Auslan classes together.”
Tania Kuchel spoke about her experiences with her twelve year old daughter Brooke who is deaf: “DCA has been supporting Brooke through the VidKids program as we are fairly isolated from deaf services in the Wimmera. Since Brooke was diagnosed at the age of three, I have had to learn to be her biggest advocate. I figured no one else is going to stand up for my child the way I will – and nothing will get done otherwise.
“Brooke had twelve months of early intervention support through Aurora but that kind of support stopped when she started school. In Prep, Brooke had a Visiting Teacher come to the school twice. In Grades 1 and 2, she had a Visiting Teacher attend once a month. Since then, they haven’t been able to replace the Visiting Teacher in the region so we haven’t had any of that kind of assistance.
“Brooke has been friends with the same group of girls ever since Prep and there are no other children around us that are deaf. It is great to have the opportunity to attend camps like this to give opportunities for Brooke to socialise with other deaf children. It’s really good for me to chat with other parents as well. Everyone is going through similar experiences and it’s reassuring to feel that we are doing the right thing.”
Twelve year old Brooke added excitedly, “I am having so much fun. My favourite activity was archery. I got a bullseye!”
Thank you to DCA’s Community Development Worker and Camp Coordinator Greg Frost, the team of DCA staff and volunteers and CatholicCare Facilitators Kate McKernin and Michael O’Keeffe. The Department of Social Services provided the funding to CatholicCare to support families with deaf children. This funding helped make the Family Camp possible.
Pictured (L – R): Felix Kelly and Tom O’Neill