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Waikato DHB nurse part of winning volunteer team helping children with Crohn’s Disease

Volunteer winners

Photo  includes: from left Karen Murdoch, Sarah Cook, Nideen Visesio, Dana Smith, Belinda Brown, Professor Andrew Day, Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, Brian Poole.

Waikato DHB Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) clinical nurse specialist Sarah Cook was amongst a national medical team,  who jointly won the ‘Health care provider service volunteer team’ for their work with Camp Purple Live, at the 2016 Ministry of Health (MOH) Volunteers Awards on 13 June 2016, Wellington.

Camp Purple Live is a camp for children and teens with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, collectively known as IBD.

The medical team’s accolade, alongside winners Rainbow Volunteers – Middlemore Hospital, was recognised out of 100 nominees for making the camp possible for a second year in a row.

The team of four gastroenterologists and five specialist nurses, that included Sarah, donated a week of their holiday time to attend, and spent a year organising the camp, procuring medical supplies, as well as assisting with other volunteers to fundraise the $65,000 annual cost for the camp.

The camp was held on 24 to 28 January 2016, Living Springs, Christchurch, and was entirely free of charge, including airfares, for the 48 children aged 9 to 16 years who attended.

The team also organised a free two-day seminar for 25 parents to provide education, support and an opportunity to network with other caregivers.

Sarah said the camp is a fabulous event to be a part of where children get to share like-minded stories and gain the confidence to try activities they thought were beyond reach because of their conditions.

“Crohn’s disease is not easy to deal with and still not widely understood, so being diagnosed as a child can be very scary and often isolating, often these kids and teens have not met others with IBD so being able to talk to other kids, teens and adults about their experiences can be empowering”, says Sarah.

“It is also a life-long disease that can be painful and often involve hospitalisation and even surgery. So being able to deliver Camp Purple Live and inspire young children to give new things a go like abseiling, kayaking and mudslides is truly humbling.”

The Camp’s Givealitte page explains just how important this program is. It helps the children build self-confidence, independence, self-esteem and resilience, all the things that normal kids get from camps. The key difference being that for this group of kids/teens, they are doing this in a safe and supportive environment geared to children with IBD. They get to meet kids their own age, usually for the first time, who understand the challenges that people with IBD face every day. It is important for them to develop support networks with their peers and make lifelong friends. It lets them know that they are not alone.

If you’d like to find out more about Camp Purple Live we encourage you to look at the camps Givealitte page that explains just how important it is. https://givealittle.co.nz/org/camppurple

About Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic autoimmune diseases that affect the digestive system, collectively known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Both cause debilitating pain, hospitalisations, repeat surgeries and a severely reduced quality of life.

New Zealand has one of the highest incidence rates of IBD in the world. Despite this IBD remains a closet disease, shrouded in silence and relatively unknown.

For more information about Crohn’s disease visit Health Navigator.

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