Drew was born with a condition called Diamond-Blackfan anaemia, which results in bone marrow failure. He had a bone marrow transplant in 2014 when he was four years old, and is now a bouncy, full-of-life nine-year-old! Here, his mum Helen tells us how freeing Family Camp was for their family.
We found out about Family Camp through one of the nurses at Manchester Children’s Hospital and it sounded great, so we applied for places. Because of Drew’s ongoing issues, there are limitations to what he can and cannot do with some school activities, so it was nice knowing that there would be support at Family Camp. He could do whatever he wanted. It was ace! A really nice family time.
Feeling like the other kids
There were so many activities. Crate stacking was Drew’s favourite – it was the first time he was able to wear a harness, due to his feeding tube. He looked terrified but he couldn’t wait to do it again! For him to be able to do fun things that ordinarily he wouldn’t be allowed to do was just brilliant. We also did laser quest, team puzzles, aeroball – who knew that existed, basketball on trampolines?!
I’ve never danced so much in my life! I didn’t know what to expect – we just had such a laugh with dancing and silly games, which we never had the opportunity to do before because we were always busy looking after our child. But we also had an opportunity for an hour to do mindfulness and share our experiences about what we had gone through. I was actually expecting fewer parental activities, but they looked after our children so there was parent time. To sit and listen to other people’s stories, I felt very blessed.
Drew made some great friends. He’s now starting to think about connecting with people who are in similar situations to him. In school he knows he won’t be the fastest runner or he isn’t allowed to do certain things. But the other people we met had the same limitations. He felt more equal in his abilities.
He was on such a high
Drew did things that he had never done before. He made lots of friends, helped by the relaxed atmosphere. The Family Camp helpers were brilliant. We had two people looking after us and they were like his best of friends, listening to everything he had to say.
The confidence boost after camp was massive. He came away thinking, ‘I can do this, I’m not the little slow one anymore, I’m the same as everybody else.’ To be somewhere where he was as good as the next person boosted his confidence. Drew was on such a high when he came away.
Words of wisdom to those thinking of going to Family Camp
Do it! Just do it! Go along and join in with absolutely everything and anything you can. It’s like a huge emotional boost. It’s an amazing family weekend. It’s amazing for your family, but also the bigger family that you create while you’re there. The whole atmosphere is fantastic.
The volunteers who come along and support the families are just brilliant. It takes the pressure off as a parent. We want to go next year, fingers crossed! I’m so inspired by the whole thing.