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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Volunteers are our strength Volunteers have been the number one key success factor behind SunnyKids' development from a single site local service to a regional charity with national impact. In fact, I still recall sitting with Board Members and Staff at a strategic retreat in 2005 where we took the decision to develop a formal volunteer program as a way of adding value to Government funding. Today SunnyKids simply wouldn’t exist without the support of volunteers. From people who regularly volunteer at the office, to programs like our Kids Clubs and those who volunteer at our fundraising events - without you we wouldn’t have the funds required to support kids and families. As you read this month's newsletter you will see a real focus on volunteering. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you all to consider putting your name forward to help us help 'Kids and Families shine'. Whether you become one of the 130 SunnyKids' volunteers needed to help out at the Color Run in October (click here to join in the fun!), a regular volunteer in one of our programs or something in between (or 'all of the above’!), we’d really like to welcome you on board. We know we simply couldn’t do it without all the good will we see in our great community!  ..

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Our hard work with our children and families through their schools doesn't stop just because it's school holidays. Robbie is 12 and lives in a single parent family. His sudden behavioural change at school had teachers stunned and worried as he was normally a model student. When he did manage to make it to school, he was aggressive and angry. SKIS was asked to approach the family to offer support. When contacted it was found that his father was suffering a bout of severe depression and he was unable to look after his family. SKIS supported Dad with medical referrals to assist with the depression and some employment assistance for when he was able to work again. Robbie needed some mentoring at this crisis point to help gain a better understanding of the situation. Mentoring with a male community member who is a Father himself, assisted with the behavioural issues. Robbie now feels like he is better equipped to understand and assist should crisis ever happen again. Casey is 6 and suffers severe anxiety. She rarely talks to her family and is reclusive and introverted. She mostly refuses to go to school and physically shuts down if she feels challenged. Her parents and siblings were unsure how to help and tried many things to bring Casey 'out of her shell'. Teachers thought that SKIS may be able to help this little girl. At the time of writing, Casey is scheduled for a diagnostic visit to Child and Youth Mental Health Services to identify pertaining issues. There is a possibility that her behaviour is linked to undiagnosed OCD. Michelle is 9 and has experienced severe child abuse in early childhood. She crys all the time at school and doesn't engage with her peers. Her mother has difficulty getting her to school. Teachers told her Mum that SKIS could help. Not only has the program assisted Mum and Michelle with counselling but we've also helped school staff. SKIS has worked with teachers and other school staff, educating them on ways to provide support for children like Michelle. We have trained them in 'sensitive instruction giving' and methods for support to ensure children like Michelle can feel secure and safe in their school environment.  ..

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

At the heart of everything SunnyKids does is the desire to help others be the best that they can be. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank those people who share our mission and assist us to provide our services.  As such, our first official Cause Marketing Partners are Prime Radio Network, KnowledgeWise, Platinum Properties, BBC Digital and Ken Mills Toyota. In addition, I'd also like to personally acknowledge all of our SunnyKids Ambassadors and announce our newest official Ambassador, Cindy Steele of TopGear Security and Top Tradies Network. Without people like this on the SunnyKids team we simply wouldn't be able to do the work we do. In the context of children young people and their families our goal is that everyone should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. For us this means that people have the opportunity to be their best in every sphere of life including home and family, school and career, as well as their own social and emotional wellbeing. We also strive to be OUR best in everything that we do as well. Recently I have been reminded of the quality people involved at SunnyKids. Being recognised as finalists in the National Small Business Awards and winning a highly commended award at the National Homelessness Prevention Awards show the quality of services people receive at SunnyKids. Seeing the amazing events and support provided by the community speaks to the quality of the people we are privileged to have as supporters; and for me, having the opportunity to see the resilience and determination of the children, young people and families we work with is a constant remider that when we all commit to be the best that we can be, GREAT things happen.    ..

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Thanks to your support, kids like Mark, Felicia and Eli have the best chance of reaching their full potential.  With help from SunnyKids supporters, the SKIS program has been a safety net for the following families: Mark a 7 year old boy was suddenly displaying unusual behaviour in the classroom.  Disturbing others when they were trying to work, being generally disruptive and talking back, was unlike this usually engaged and pleasant student.  His teachers referred him to the SunnyKids SKIS program.  A support network assisted the family who were under severe financial stress at the time.  It was found that Mark's mother had been able to access eye testing for him and he required glasses.  The problem was, the family couldn't afford them.  With great generosity, a local business donated two sets of glasses for Mark whose grades are now back to his high average. Felicia, 10, needed some support.  It was clear that the tragic accidental death of her father was weighing heavily and affecting her engagement at school.  SunnyKids was called upon to provide support for Felicia and her family.  Mum was having her own difficulties trying to adjust to being the sole provider for her family whilst dealing with her own grief.  Counselling was set up for the family and individual family members.  Mentoring for Felicia was also coordinated.  Felicia is slowly returning to her old happy self after receiving support from her extended network. Eli is only 6 years old.  He's from a large family with 9 children.  Struggling financially, both parents were working several part time jobs to try to make ends meet.  Younger children were left in the care of older children resulting in hygiene issues and inappropriate school attire.  As teachers noted Eli's lack of personal care which could potentially lead to significant health problems, SunnyKids was asked for assistance. Mentoring around nutrition and hygiene was provided to parents and children in the family and age appropriate responsibilities were implemented to help the family function well as a team.  The generosity of a local business could not have come at a better time for Eli and his siblings who were provided with new clothing for school. Thank you to those members of the community who have helped the SunnyKids kids this month!      ..

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

What a wonderful gift volunteering can be.  Nina van der Plas dance teacher at Free Spirit Dance & Music School, realises that disadvantaged kids usually don't get the chance to participate in extra curricular activity like dance classes - so by volunteering her time, she's bringing the classes to them! 'I have been working alongside SunnyKids for about a year now and have had such a great experience. Being able to provide free dance classes to children who would otherwise miss out, is incredibly rewarding and something I hope will continue for a long time to come,' says Nina. Nina volunteers for several hours a week across a couple of schools on the Coast.  Her efforts in the past year have been invaluable to the students who have blossomed in self confidence and self-esteem by participating in her classes.  'I'm currently seeking funding that will allow this work to continue across the Sunshine Coast and hopefully reach more children. SunnyKids, their values, their mission and their employees are incredible in what they strive for in the local community. I look forward to many more years working alongside them!' And we look forward to working with you Nina!  Thanks so much for your generosity of spirit!  You've truly helped the SunnyKids kids SHINE!!! You can reach Nina on 0423 333 280 or at www.freespiritdanceandmusic.com if you have any enquiries about classes.  

Free SPirit Logo

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

All you need to do is take a can of food into Network Video Maroochydore in July and you'll receive a free DVD rental! Store Manager, Brad, talks about the event, 'Cans4Films is a great initiative to benefit disadvantaged and homeless people here on the Coast.  We chose to support SunnyKids as it's a local charity and we're a local business.  We like the idea of helping out where we can and think that donating non-perishable food for a whole month will make a huge difference to so many.' For the month of July, Network Video Maroochydore members can bring in a can of food to donate. In return you'll be given a free DVD rental.  All food donated will go to Najidah - the SunnyKids homelessness shelter. Thanks Network Video for this innovative fundraiser! ..

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mikki's Gourmet Food & Wine Bar, 34 Duporth Ave, Maroochydore is donating 10% of their Sunday night takings to SunnyKids! Zsofia and her husband Craig approached SunnyKids to let us know what they were going to do. 'We think it's a good thing to give back to our community that is why we have chosen to support SunnyKids. We've just had our own child so really feel for the SunnyKids kids,' says Zsofia. This is a great opportunity to support a local business as well as SunnyKids, while having a great time out!  So get down to Mikki's and grab a fantastic meal any Sunday night - knowing you're doing your bit to help Sunshine Coast kids. Thanks heaps Mikki's for supporting our kids!

Mikki's

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Kids like Elsie, Toby & John deserve every chance to be the best they can be.  Thanks to everyone who supports SunnyKids, these kids are well on their way to achieving their goals.  Thank you! Elsie is a shy 8 year old girl who has trouble making friends at school.  Teachers noticed that she was not included by the other children when playing during lunch breaks and instead sat alone until it was time to resume classes.  Elsie was often away from school due to ‘illness’ which was putting her behind in her school work and social development.  With the help of SunnyKids and one of our partners who provides a family support program, Elsie was back on track within 4 weeks.  She received support to gain confidence with her peers and now has no problem with asking a group if she can join in.  Her bouts of ‘illness’ have suddenly disappeared with this new found confidence. Toby’s parents thought their 9 year old was just a ‘trouble maker’.  He was an attention seeker at every turn - angry, disinterested and distracted with a negative attitude to peers, authority figures and family.  It took 13 weeks to turn Toby’s life around.  SunnyKids was able to put a holistic support system around the family in order to tackle the issues from every angle.  The breakthrough came when a medical specialist suggested the behaviours were related to the poor diet of the family – a food allergy. As the family was educated around nutrition and supported in their dietary choices, Toby’s behaviour turned a corner and he is now actively engaged at school and is making significant progress socially and emotionally. Life at home was tough for John who has just turned 12.  His teachers were noticing a variety of behaviours being played out at school – on the days when he actually turned up.  He was always tired and angry – the anger often spilling over in the playground, leading to isolation.  As SunnyKids moved in to help, it was obvious there were serious issues at home.  There was significant conflict in the household leading to frequent domestic violence.  John was also the victim of bullying in the home.  We are 15 weeks into helping this family and things have improved somewhat.  SunnyKids will continue to help John and his family for some time to come – with one aim in mind – that this child has the opportunity to live in a safe and loving environment which nurtures him to reach his full potential. # the names of these children have been changed in order to protect their anominity  ..

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

2013 National Homelessness Services Achievement Awards ..

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Friday, May 24, 2013

This month the Alexandra Headlands Rotary Club held their 'Pride of Workmanship Awards' - won by our very own Carolyn McCarthy!  Carolyn was recognised for her volunteer work and long term service to  SunnyKids. The Pride of Workmanship Program, started nearly 40 years ago by Rotary in NSW, enables organisations to publicly recognise employees and volunteers for their efforts. SunnyKids was proud to have been included in this event and to be able to nominate Carolyn.  We congratulate other nominees from organisations such as AGL Helicopter Rescue and Bloomhills. It was an inspiring night seeing our selfless volunteers being recognised in this way. Congratulations again Carolyn and thank you for your hard work!

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