We have noted in the past that there is often a trigger or an experience that sees a person becoming passionate about a sector, what was the trigger behind your move to Child Cancer Foundation?
I have always had a passion for organisations that work to better the lives of children. Children are our future, I firmly believe that every child deserves to have the very best start in life so they can maximise their potential and fulfil their dreams as an adult.
Please tell us a bit about your background, and how you ended up working for the Child Cancer Foundation.
My professional background has largely been in the commercial sector – starting in marketing roles and then moving through to general management both here and in Australia. I moved into the not-for-profit arena with my appointment to chief executive of Tennis Auckland. While in that role I was approached by a recruitment search specialist about this role. My interest was piqued when I heard the word ‘children’ and the rest, they say, is history.
How is the assistance and support provided to families by Child Cancer Foundation different to that of other similar charities?
In the paediatric oncology world our support for families is unique. We provide one-to-one support for every family that is referred to Child Cancer Foundation. Each child and family has a family support co-ordinator who is with them from the time of diagnosis to the point where that family no longer needs our support. This happens both in the treatment centre, at their home and in the community. We aim to provide seamless support as the child and family walk this unplanned journey. Our involvement with families is generally counted in years and is tailored to the specific challenges they face, which can change over the period we know them.
If there were just three things (successes, improvements, aims) you would like to see happen at the Child Cancer Foundation, what would they be?
Of course nirvana would be to make ourselves redundant. But, in the meantime, I would like to see our one-to-one support enhanced with more holistic programmes that give meaningful tools and coping mechanisms for the various family members impacted by a childhood cancer diagnosis. We are looking at how we can improve educational support for the children; how we can help families with the nutritional challenges of children with cancer; what we can do to get parents and care-givers through this traumatic time by providing wellness programmes aimed at their needs and challenges.
Lifting the profile of Child Cancer Foundation and increasing the awareness of childhood cancer and its implications is another key goal for our teams. We are often confused with other children’s charities but for the benefit of our children and families it is important that our name and purpose continues to build so that our unique support is not compromised.
And finally, we would love to give our families the kind of support that helps them get through this experience as the strong family unit it started out as (regardless of what that structure is) – or, even better, stronger in its unity. Sadly the pressures of this experience all too often takes its toll on the marriage or partnership and we would see it as a great accolade if our various support mechanisms grew the strength of the family unit.
How is the work you and your team do for the Child Cancer Foundation funded?
Child Cancer Foundation is 100% funded through the generosity of New Zealanders. We do not receive any direct government funding for our support. We rely entirely on donated funds through various initiatives – from individual and business donations to fundraising by community groups and special events.
Please tell us more about The Big Hoot, the creative event, set to engage Aucklanders in a big way early 2018.
The Big Hoot presented by Child Cancer Foundation and Wild in Art, is a large scale public art trail event, swooping through the streets of Auckland and its surrounds, for 10 weeks in the autumn of 2018.
The public can get active by following the vibrant owl trail created by well-known and emerging artists and sponsored by Auckland businesses and organisations.
The event will culminate in one of the largest charity art events held in New Zealand, comprising more than 50 bespoke-designed, 1.6m tall owls.
How can businesses, institutions and individuals get involved in The Big Hoot?
The large Big Hoot owls sculptures can be sponsored by a business, educational institution, community group or an individual wanting to share their story or brand and be a part of a fun public event that brings families and friends together in our biggest city!
Local artists and designers will be invited to unleash their creativity and submit designs for the Big Hoot tall owl sculptures.
Auckland school children will also be invited to take part in the Big Hoot by sponsoring and designing their own owlets, a 90cm version of the owls. Each participating school will receive an owlet sculpture, paints and an extensive curriculum linked Education Resource Pack. We can’t wait to see what Auckland’s children come up with!
At the end of the event, each Owl will be auctioned to raise funds for Child Cancer Foundation.
To learn more about sponsorship, schools, artist programme and community involvement you can visit: thebighoot.co.nz
And in closing, is there anything else you would like to share with Verve readers?
When I first came to Child Cancer Foundation I was genuinely shocked at the impact this diagnosis has on the family. I was aware how traumatic it was for the child but the parents, siblings, grandparents and the wider family are, without notice, thrown into a world that leaves them reeling. We are fortunate in New Zealand to have first rate oncology care for children with little or no delay but that doesn’t prepare the family for what happens and what decisions need to be made. Families are often split as there are only two treatment centres in New Zealand and, in many cases, the financial situation of the family changes quickly as treatment starts and the need for parental/family support grows. Understanding what these families face, and the resilience of both the child patient and the family, makes me humbled to be in a position where our people can make a meaningful difference.