Completing Year Six is a wonderful achievement that many children across the Hunter will celebrate over the next week. The milestone has taken on even greater significance for Kiara from Gateshead who has battled illness and treatment for much of the final two years of her primary schooling.
Kiara was diagnosed with Tinea Capitis in June 2017. The resulting surgeries and treatment meant she was missing much of her schooling and falling further behind her peers.
Linking with the Ronald McDonald Learning Program in June 2018 was a critical turning point for Kiara enabling her to reach her full potential while continuing her treatment.
The Ronald McDonald Learning Program is an educational catch-up program for students who have missed a significant amount of school due to illness or injury. It employs qualified teachers to work one-on-one with the students to help them catch up with their peers and reach their full potential.
The program is made possible by the generosity of the local community and funding from the Greater Charitable Foundation
Kiara has been working closely with her program tutor over the past 18 months which has enabled her to successfully complete year six and prepare for high school in 2021.
Kiara and her family, along with Tim and other staff from Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern NSW, celebrated Kiara’s achievements this week with a party at the new McDonald’s outlet at Bennetts Green.
Kiara’s mother, Briony, could not have been prouder of her daughter’s achievements or more thankful for the support of Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern NSW and the Learning Program staff.
“Kiara’s been through an awful lot for a child her age, which was impacting all parts of her life. Not only was her education suffering due to the amount of school she was missing, but the nature of her treatment and the lack of contact with her peers really affected her confidence and increased her anxiety levels,” Briony said.
“The Learning Program has been great in so many ways and she really has come a long way over the past 18 months. It’s provided far more than a session a week of schooling. The support she receives, not only from her tutor but all involved in the program, has been incredible.
“Kiara has learned so much but just as important for us is that she has her confidence back and leaves the session happy, talkative and laughing. It’s wonderful to see these qualities back in our little girl.
“This achievement party for Kiara was unexpected but very much appreciated by our family. It’s not just a chance to celebrate Kiara’s progress but also to get together with our Ronald McDonald House family and say thank you for all they have provided us.”
Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern NSW Chief Executive Officer, Ross Bingham, said the Learning Program, which has been operating in the Hunter since 2001 continues to have a significant impact on many families across Northern NSW.
“Our teachers and staff do an incredible job in supporting the education of the many sick children who come through the program each year. In 2020 alone, we have had 145 primary and high school students who have benefited from the Learning Program,” Ross said.
“The specialised one-on-one sessions not only help these children meet their educational needs but also provides a welcome distraction from what they are dealing with in terms of the health conditions and treatment.
“Our teachers are very special people and provide a wonderful service to these families.
“We also couldn’t provide this program without the support of Greater Charitable Foundation. Their funding has allowed us to reach many more children and extend the impact of the program to families across Northern NSW.”
Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern NSW was one of the beneficiaries of Greater Foundation’s 2019 funding round receiving more than $260,000 over two years to support the Learning Program. The foundation provided additional funding of $82,417 in July this year to help ‘keep the lights on’ at Ronald McDonald House in Newcastle for seriously ill children and their families during the COVID-19 crisis.