Thu 8 December 2016
Jaquelyn Muller is author of children’s books I Love You 5 Lollipops and Elizabeth Rose on Parade and a child literacy advocate.
Over the last 30 years, the cancer death rate in children aged 0-14 years has decreased by about 60%. However, this year it was estimated that 650 Australian children would be diagnosed with cancer.
While it is comforting to see a reduction in the diagnosed rate of paediatric cancer in this country, the thought of any child dying or suffering from cancer is intolerable. Australia is lucky to have many charities and organisations supporting cancer research.
There are also many organisations in place purely to support patients and their families while they are undergoing treatment or recovering from cancer.
One such organisation is Koala Kids, established in 2007 to complement the major funding program of the Children’s Cancer Centre Foundation. It is committed to supplying engaging, educational and entertaining activities and programs to distract children and their families from the pain and trauma associated with the paediatric cancer journey.
Children don’t stop being learners just because they are sick. They don’t want to be defined by their illness. Koala Kids aims to help children maintain their creativity, thirst for knowledge and exposure to experiences, not only to help them keep a positive attitude but to help them maintain their relationships and education outside of their treatment program.
One of the key focuses for Koala Kids is helping sick children maintain a link with literacy and I have been very proud to be involved in their Book Club. Australian authors visit the cancer centres in Melbourne at the Royal Children’s Hospital and the Monash Children’s Cancer Centre. They run fun, interactive reading and play sessions.
Sometimes this may be done with a group of kids in one of their common areas or one on one with the patients and sometimes their siblings in the wards. It has been amazing to see how just a small amount of time with them can help their spirits soar, also giving a huge boost to parents who are under immense stress and anxiety.
Koala Kids is now extending on from this literacy program by providing hundreds of perfect bound journals and writing books plus pens and colouring pencils for children and young people looking for the words to articulate a traumatic experience to bring relief. Young people are frequently moved to write a poem during cancer treatment. Just as poetry and voice can help youth access the wisdom they already have but cannot experience because they cannot find the words in ordinary language, journal writing can improve control over pain, depressed mood and pain severity. Expressing anger has proven helpful for individuals suffering extreme pain, or long periods of illness like cancer.
I am very proud to be partnering with The Koala Kids Foundation on a special Christmas appeal to help deliver picture books to young patients this Christmas. For as little as $10 people can purchase copies of my books that will be donated on their behalf to a child who will not get to enjoy Christmas like the rest of us. The cost covers book printing and production, a name plate from the donating family and delivery. They will be delivered along with my donation of books in time for Christmas.
To order go to www.jmullerbooks.com.
For more information about the Koala Kids and how you can support or pass on their information to a family you may know in need of their support, visit www.koalakids.org.au