Over The Wall provides free of charge camps to help children with life-limiting illnesses, and their families, reach beyond the perceived limitations of illness to rediscover a whole new world of possibilities. Through participation in a proven programme of fun-filled recreational and educational activities, Over The Wall camps help promote inclusion whilst developing the confidence, self-esteem, coping strategies and peer relationships of all their campers.
Hannah, 15, suffers from a rare genetic condition called Neurofibromatosis. This condition means that non-malignant tumours can grow anywhere on nerves in the body. They can grow anywhere inside or outside the body which means they can become very disfiguring and can vary between the size of a pea to a tennis ball. Hannah had to have chemotherapy when she was 2 years old for an Optic Nerve Glioma which left her blind in the left eye and then had radiotherapy when she was six for another tumour growing between the two optic nerves. Due to these tumours she is now partially-sighted.
Hannah went to Over The Wall Camp for the first time 3 years ago and had a wonderful time. She made lots of new friends there and her mother, Judith said she “still talks about it now.”
Judith, Hannah’s mother explained to us how Hannah has a tough time at school as her peer group make comments because she looks different. “Sometimes she would come home from school in tears because of something said at school. At Over The Wall she had no-one staring at her and making snide comments or avoiding her because of the way she looks. She grew in confidence and enjoyed the experience of doing new activities like horse riding. She never once felt unhappy or homesick during the camp; in fact she wished the camp would have lasted longer.”
Judith explained that Hannah was able to share all the problems she faces with the leaders and other campers where she felt very much accepted and part of the group. “At school Hannah feels she is often left out and is never chosen for teams at PE or to be part of their team. At camp she enjoyed listening to the other campers and how their illnesses affected them. She did not feel she was the odd one out which she often does at school. It helped her realise that she is not alone in the struggles she faces. Hannah has a lot of hurdles to face in the future with more surgery and not knowing how many more tumours will grow. Over The Wall Camp gave her a complete break from the harsh realities of what life throws at her and she was able to relax, have fun and be herself.”
Since 2009, Over the Wall has received over £13,500 in funding from DM Thomas Foundation.