Warrnambool Special Development School Students Still Smiling from Camp Experience
As a community based, not-for-profit organisation, WDEA Works channels funding back into our regional communities through the WDEA Works Foundation. This is a fund established to support activities in the communities in which we operate, so that organisations can improve access and opportunity to people living with a disability. Since it started in 2004, the Trust has distributed more than 1 million dollars to various groups across regional Victoria.
In 2019 the WDEA Works Foundation was pleased to support the Warrnambool Special Development School providing $10,000 of financial assistance towards school camps for years 9, 10, 11 & 12 students. As many parents can attest, school camps provide a wonderful opportunity for children to find their independence and to experience unique activities and destinations.
“WDEA Works was happy to support the Warrnambool Special Development School, we want to make a difference to the lives of people living with a disability. Logistically it can be difficult travelling with special needs, and this often means additional costs. We wanted to reduce some of these barriers, so the students have the opportunity to experience a school camp. I was lucky enough to catch up with many of the students when they returned from their camps, sharing photos and stories, the smiles on their faces said it all.
Eight year 12 students travelled to the Gold Coast for a life changing 5-day camp experience. For many of the students this was a series of firsts; first plane ride, first trip interstate and for some the first time away from their family. During the camp the students visited Dreamworld, Movie World, Whitewater World and saw the sites of Surfers Paradise.
The Gold Coast camp provided the students with an opportunity to build their confidence in travel and communication. This will be invaluable to them as they move into the next chapter of their lives. Most importantly though, the students had a tonne of fun!
In a separate 3-day camp, sixteen year 9,10 & 11 students went to Cave Hill Creek in Beaufort. This was an action-packed camp with lots of challenging activities including canoeing, crate stacking, bush walking, damper making, archery, a hoe-down dance night, a birds of prey show, spotlighting adventure, bike riding, nature art lessons, board games and rostered duties.
The 3-day camp is a way of preparing the student to attend the Gold Coast camp at the end of their year 12 senior year. For many students the Cave Hill Creek Camp is their first time away from home, so they are learning basic but important life skills such as tasting new foods, attending to chores, living with new people, looking after their possessions and the independence of being away from their families.
The outdoor and physical nature of the structured activities teach the students teamwork, listening skills, cooperation and following instructions. It also physically challenges them and moves them out of their comfort zones. They have plenty of fun; laughing and getting to know one-another along the way.
The camp fosters a community environment and each student returns home with a sense of achievement and accomplishment and an increase in confidence and self-esteem.
“These camps have an important learning and development component for students at the Warrnambool Special Development School to have access to. Up until this year Barwon Health helped fund the camps but with NDIS changes the camps are no longer supported. The camps are an expensive undertaking for many families, so we were grateful for the support from the WDEA Works Foundation in assisting with subsiding these.”
Said Lisa Lee Senior Secondary Team Leader at the Warrnambool Special Development School.
Looking forward to new adventures for 2020, there is no doubt the memories from 2019 and attending the camps will keep the students smiling and provide plenty of stories to tell over the years to come.