Finishing school is a key milestone for a young person that should be celebrated. But for teenagers with disabilities, this is not always possible.
Thanks to your support, NSW mum Kathie was able to send her son Daniel to SU-Schoolies Whitsundays. Spoiler alert: he had the time of his life!
For many parents who have a child with Down Syndrome, the thought of sending them on a week away would cause some serious nerves.
“Parents of kids with disabilities often ask questions like: ‘Is anyone going to understand my child?’ or ‘Is anyone going to support them?’,” Kathie says.
“Children with disabilities can have limited life experiences. Most of the time they really want to be involved in groups and social circles, but don’t have the ability to initiate conversations.”
But for Kathie, she knew her son was in good hands with Scripture Union. In fact, he’s been an SU camper since Grade 7. When she discovered Queensland’s SUSchoolies program, she signed Daniel up on the spot.
“In our culture, ‘schoolies’ has become almost a rite of passage,” Kathie says.
“It was such a blessing to know SU QLD organised everything and had responsible adult leaders supervising the event.
“Without SU-Schoolies, Daniel wouldn’t have been able to experience that ‘rite of passage’. Now he can say, ‘Yeah I went on schoolies’ .”
With some help from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS}, Kathie sponsored two of Daniel’s friends – Matt and Connor – to come along on SU-Schoolies Whitsundays with him. Connor said the week was a blast.
“There wasn’t really one part that was my favourite. I liked all of it,” Connor recalls.
“Activities were prepared and planned, but there was still enough free room and we
were treated like adults – not kids.
“He [Daniel] really enjoyed it. He doesn’t talk a lot, but he was smiling a lot and definitely had a great time.”
Event Director Jane Moe said SUSchoolies is all about helping all schoolies enjoy the ‘week of their life’.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a disability or if you don’t have anyone coming with you,” Jane says.
“You’ve finished 12 years of school – we think that’s worth celebrating and we’re gonna help you do just that!”
Kathie says SU-Schoolies was a great way to finish her son’s journey as a SU camper.
“I’m so glad that Daniel is going to be able to look back in 30 or 40 years and remember what he did on schoolies. Knowing that is such a blessing.”
Spaces are available for SU-Schoolies events in 2020! For more information, visit su-schoolies.com