Over 16 and 17 July, Sony Foundation held the annual Children’s Holiday Camp Conference, welcoming attendees from Schools and Universities across Australia and New Zealand.
Held virtually for the first time this year, the conference included 17 presentations and workshops from a diverse range of external industry experts, notable disability advocates, camp coordinators and volunteers. Collectively the presentations shared knowledge, insights and experiences within the constantly evolving disability sector, focusing on the importance of adaption; specifically in light of the current health crisis.
Sony Foundation Chair, Cathy O’Connor, welcomed attendees to the conference thanking all coordinators for volunteering their time to, ‘create a wave of societal change when it comes to caring for a person with a disability’ and an opportunity of much-needed respite for the families and carers of the 670+ children who access the program each year.
Highlights from the conference included keynote presentations from two inspirational young women, ABC Disability Affairs Reporter, Nas Campanella, and Researcher for Cerebral Palsy Society NZ, Amy Hogan, who shared their lived experience with disability. Additionally, attendees were given valuable opportunities to network and learn from one another through their unique, yet shared, experiences.
OUR TOP 5 TAKEAWAYS
- We're more similar than we are different
Nas Campanella discussed that having a disability does not mean that a person is disadvantaged or should be made to adapt themselves to fit an environment, or be compatible with ‘supports’ that are most readily available – “I live my life in the same way that you do. There are some things that I obviously do a little bit differently, but for the most part, I have access to all of the same things as every one of you.”
Nas also shred the importance and responsibility of our society to think outside the square when it comes to supporting people with a disability, and ensuring their needs are met – “The most crucial thing that she [teachers aid] brought to my life was a positive attitude and an attitude that they needed to cater for my needs rather than me needing to fit into theirs.”
- It's time to think differently
Sony Camp Coordinators challenged themselves to think critically about how to adapt their current camp program in light of COVID-19. Particular focus was placed on risk assessments and new considerations for camps, and what could be done to ensure safety for all on Sony Camp.
- Inclusive activities so everyone can participate
Play by the Rules and NORO Music Therapy, shared simplistic ways to adapt sports and activities on camps to increase inclusivity and opportunities for Campers to enjoy new experiences and accomplishments.
- Importance of having fun with peers - it's universal!
Health researcher Amy Hogan, from Cerebral Palsy Society New Zealand, highlighted the importance of giving every person the same opportunity to engage in the community, and living as a particular member of that community through adapted activity - “Newer studies have identified the importance of activity and engaging in social groups at whatever level a person may be able, particularly peer groups”.
- Sony Camp is an experience like no other for all involved
Student Companions, India, Louis and Macey, shared their experiences of caring for a child with disability, and the lasting impact of this experience. When asked what advice they would pass on to future companions, India said the most important thing is to ‘listen to the needs of the Camper, and prioritise these first’, Macey elaborated saying ‘you are there for the camper, you need to adjust your needs for theirs – you have to be all in, these challenges are part of the experience’.
THANK YOU TO ALL WHO PRESENTED