Guest blogger Dr Sandheeah Ramdeny
Over The Wall, is an amazing activity camp which is free for children, teenagers and family who are living with serious health challenges. It is a national charity which provide support to kids who are faced with seious health challenges through transformational residential camps across the UK. There are different camps which take place at different times of the year some of the camps focused mainly on the kids living with serious health problems some on the siblings and some on the families. These kids who lives with their health problems are mostly affected by their illness and are unable to participate in fun activities normally enjoyed by their friends and peers. Consequently, these kids then have a reduced self-esteem and self-confidence which can negatively impact on their growth and their development.
The main purpose of Over the Wall, is to tackle these issues to allow a transformational change to occur in a safe environment with medical professionals being around to provide the medical care that they need so that the campers return with a new sense of their abilities and ambitions and improved self-confidence.
I choose to take part in the health challenge camp which was mainly focused on the kids with serious health challenges which took place in Strathallan, a really nice boarding school located in Perth, Scotland with breath taking landscapes. The medical team were named the ‘Beach Patrol’, which consisted of 5 paediatric Spr, on GP, one paramedic, two nurses. The camp lasted for a week and the first few days were mainly centred around simulation scenarios to deal with the different cases which could arise whilst in camp as well as becoming familiar with the medical condition of the campers and to learn about their individual management plan. There were around 60 campers with a wide range of medical condition ranging from Type 1 diabetic, ALL, sickle cell disease, cerebral palsy, medical condition requiring bowel washout, Haemophilla, Marfan syndrome, Noonan’s syndrome, DiGeorge syndrome, kids with heart failure, patients on daily chemotherapy. Our normal day would start at 07 30 am in the morning and end around 2230 with 2 of us taking turns to do a night shift to provide cover each night. As the medical team, we were involved in giving the campers their medication before breakfast, during lunch and dinner time and accompanying the campers whilst they were carrying out their activities such as ensuring the young Type 1 diabetic would have their blood sugar level monitored and insulin administered accordingly. Each one of us would be closely attached to a camper who could potentially become sick so that we would be able to keep a close eye on them and we would accompany them to all the activities.
Most of the activities were based on the campus of the boarding school. For instance, each day would have activities planned such as archery, music, drama, swimming, arts and crafts. These activities would be focused to allow them to realise their potential and us trying to make them believe in themselves and go beyond what they can do. The evenings were based mainly on Talent night where the campers would do an interesting act, play, dance or music to demonstrate each of their talent.
There was one day, when the whole team went to Edinburgh to go to the international climbing arena. This was an excellent opportunity to allow campers to reach beyond their capabilities. For instance, on the camper in my group, a lovely 8 year old girl, who was afraid of heights and did not want to attempt any climbing. However, when she saw the other kids having so much fun and me being by her side telling her that I would be here and she could just attempt to climb and that she didn’t have to go too far. She was initially reluctant but the finally agreed. When she started climbing., she realised that she wasn’t scared anymore and was able to climb. When she got down, she was very emotional as she was now able to do something that she could not do. She said that she would never forget this experience.
Some of the statements of the campers from Over The Wall, “It is no exaggeration to say that my experience with OTW was on the best weeks of my life. It Is true what they say.”
To me, I do believe that Over The Wall provides an amazing opportunity to allow seriously ill children to go beyond the boundaries of their illness and have a positive impact for the rest of their life.
For more information go to www.otw.org.uk
Dr Annabel Greenwood