IT’S every parent’s worst nightmare. Your child has been diagnosed with cancer and – just when treatment has finished and things are starting to look brighter – their self-confidence is crushed by school bullies who call them “baldy.”
Coinciding with the National Day of Action Against Bullying, last Friday, March 21, children’s cancer charity Camp Quality reported that this is a “huge problem” with hundreds of parents and schools calling their freephone number each year to seek help and book a free performance of the Camp Quality puppet show, which teaches pupils how to be supportive and understanding of kids living with cancer.
Camp Quality’s Primary School Education Program tours a puppet show across Australia and is now in its 25th year. The show has been seen by over 4 million pupils and 230,000 pupils saw it in the last year alone. The charity employs a team of talented puppeteers to explain cancer to primary school pupils, which discourages bullying and dispels common myths about cancer.
Chandra Franken, Camp Quality’s Primary School Education Manager, said: “Most young pupils are scared that they’ll ‘catch’ cancer, so they exclude or isolate the child who has returned to school after treatment. Children living with cancer get bullied because they look so different to their classmates. Steroid treatments make them gain weight and often they lose all their hair due to the chemotherapy. The bullying is a huge problem. Our puppet show teaches pupils that it’s “uncool to be cruel.”
Parents and teachers alike have praised the show for its effectiveness. Shannon Mackowski, puppeteer for SA and NT said: “After our performance, the little girl with cancer returned to her classroom and – without saying a word – quietly took off her wig to reveal her head to show she had no hair, just as Kylie does in the play. A young boy walked up to her and said: ‘I think you look really pretty like that.’”
Seven-year-old Sophie Bryan, from SA, said: “After the puppets explained leukaemia, the kids at school stopped bullying me.”
Watch Sophie’s story – and how the Camp Quality puppets helped her – here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqMCGH2Snus
Last year, a major longstanding sponsor pulled their funding commitments from the program. Camp Quality is now appealing to the public to keep the show on the road by donating: https://www.mycampquality.org.au/donate or call 1300 662 267.
Source: Camp Quality