The Foundation was delighted to offer support of £10,330 to Over the Wall, a small UK charity that exists solely to help seriously ill children and their families reach beyond the pain, distress and unhappiness of life-limiting illness to discover joy, confidence and a whole new world of possibilities. The funding is for the provision of fully accessible, therapeutic recreation activities and facilities at four camps for children with serious, life-limiting illnesses and disabilities, (aged 8-17). One camp will take place in Perth, Scotland in July, while one camp in Dorset and two in Staffordshire will take place in August. The charity was also nominated for a local Foundation grant by fundraisers at Hilton Manchester Airport.
Life-limiting illnesses & disabilities often preclude children from participating in mainstream life, due to the complexity of their medical needs. Seriously ill children can become lonely and isolated and experience severe disruption to their education and natural & social development. Physical evidence of their illnesses & disabilities can subject children to bullying & rejection by their peers, thus heightening their feelings of exclusion and unhappiness.
There is great deal of stress on a family unit coping with a child with severe disability. This can lead to a sense of isolation, sadness & depression, feeling disconnected from the community. The impact is felt across the whole family. In many cases at least one parent is the child’s full time carer, which creates a financial strain, (particularly in the case of single parent families). Financial hardship as well as the constant need to access medical care and treatment can make it impossible for many seriously ill children to ever get a break from home or hospital.
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.”