A volunteer’s reflection on the adolescent sibling program

A group of young adults are outdoors in the bush. They are laughing and smiling at the camera.

Written by Very Special Kids volunteer, Laura 

I became a volunteer with Very Special Kids as a way of becoming more involved in a community that was doing some good in the world.  

I began my volunteering journey in the hospice and soon became involved with the adolescent program by attending the annual adolescent camp – a weekend long adventure camp, full of fun activities for the young people we support. This first experience opened my eyes to the space that was created and held for adolescents and the potential for conversation, debriefing, sharing and growth; all wrapped in an array of fun activities.  

I decided to become involved in the adolescent program because I instantly saw the value of bringing young people together and facilitating the space for them to share their stories with peers in similar situations. I’ve seen the shared understanding young people who have a sibling linked in with Very Special Kids have, and the mutual respect they all hold for each other. The adolescent program is my favourite aspect of being a Very Special Kids volunteer. I’ve been lucky enough to watch a lot of the young people we support grow over the years and I’ve seen first-hand how our shared experiences nurture compassion, mutual respect and the development of good people. 

This year, I was lucky enough to join the Mittagundi camp – a week long adventure farm stay where we went back to basics; no electricity and no technology. Just us chatting, cooking, chopping wood, cultivating vegetables and living from the land. It was a week of firsts for a lot of us; first time setting up a tent, first time hiking, first abseil, first time in a wet suit, and first time away from home for more than a few days.  

Young adults are collecting water from a river, and hiking outdoors.

Everyone rose to the challenge and met each activity with enthusiasm. Mittagundi gave us all a chance to slow down from our busy lives and enjoy the magic moments each day held. By the end of the week the challenges faced forged new friendships, sparked important conversations and fostered endless fun.  

My involvement in these programs has solidified, in my mind, the benefits of being a volunteer with Very Special Kids. The opportunities afforded to me, have allowed me to grow in the volunteer role and develop my own sense of self and belonging. I’m in constant awe of the young people we support and how they carry themselves with respect, compassion and empathy. The most enjoyable part of these programs is connecting everyone together and watching their friendships form.  

These programs, for me, serve as a reminder for what’s really important in life – making positive connections with each other and sprinkling in some fun. The adolescent program has highlighted time and time again exactly how important it is for young people to connect and grow over mutual understanding of having a sibling linked with Very Special Kids. I’m so incredibly lucky to be involved in the program. 

A group of young people are standing outside smiling at the camera. There is a dog in the front, and one person is holding a chicken.