CatholicCare's Annual Charity Golf Day was held on Monday July 8 at Port Kembla Golf Club after being postponed due to the wet weather. Golfers were very happy that the grounds had dried and cleared in time for the event which was very successful in raising much needed funds for the Family & Sibling Support (SIBS) Program. The program provides information and support for brothers and sisters of kids with a disability, increasing understanding, skills and capabilities.
CatholicCare was blessed to have Activity Buddy and Miss World finalist for the Illawarra, Jessica Pinkerton as guest speaker for this years event, who helped raise awareness for sibling issues.
Jesy spoke from the heart about what it was like to grow up with a brother who has cerebral palsy and enlightened the 100+ guests.
"There are both good and 'not-so-good' things about having a brother with CP", she said.
Like many siblings Jesy described herself as fiercely protective of her brother and extremely proud of him but she also acknowledged just how tough it was at varying times during her childhood because she felt different from the other kids.
"I would often invite friends over after school, they would come back once and not come back again", she said. "I grew up feeling very isolated".
"Certainly, having something like a Saturday SibsClub to go to when I was a child would have made a lot of things a whole lot easier. I would have met other kids who knew what i was going through".
Jesy's story was a unique was for golfers and local businesses that sponsor the day to gain a very real insight into what the brothers and sisters of children with a disability deal with everyday.
As Jesy also volunteers with the SIBS program as an Activity Buddy, she talked about how important it was for siblings to feel they have somewhere safe to explore their feelings on disability with other kids who know what it's like.
Disability or chronic illness impacts everyone in the family and through a framework of having fun, the SIBS program aims to address the needs of siblings, value their caring role in the family and build their self-esteem. Program Coordinator, Kath Walsh agreed with Jesy stating it was not unusual for siblings to experience a range of negative feelings and emotions at some stage during their childhood.
"Our Saturday SibsClub provides siblings with a chance to have fun, relax and just be kids", she said. "One Saturday a month they get to be the special ones. They meet other kids who share the experience of disability and they learn they are not alone".
Kath McCormack, Director of CatholicCare says the smooth running of proceedings is a credit to the tireless voluntary efforts of the fundraising committee and staff who lent a helping hand.
"This years Golf Day has gone a long way towards securing much needed funds for the SIBS program, and CatholicCare is truly grateful to the participants, sponsors and the fundraising committee for their kind donations and constant support of this valuable service".
"A big thank you must go to all who got involved in the event and I would like to particularly recognise Jessica Pinkerton for her inspirational speech given to the audience. Her experience as a sibling highlighted the need for this important program", she continued.
The Family and Sibling Support (SIBS) Program is a unique and innovative way to further support families who have a child with a disability. For more information go to the SIBS page OR call 4227 1122.