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Dancing, Art Therapy, Literacy and Numeracy Games and Laughter: Filming the Kids in Ronald McDonald House’s Early Learning Program in Perth

My wife Toni conducts educational assessments for children who have been in PMH and are now able to access the Ronald McDonald Learning Program for tutoring which is one of the amazing roles of the Learning Program at Ronald McDonald House. 

So Toni was having a chat with Clare O’Connor State Manager, Ronald McDonald Learning Program 
who told her she was going to New Zealand for a special event, and would like to have a video to show what the Work of Heart Program does.  The Work of Heart Program is the ‘in house’ education program.  Children and their siblings staying in Ronald McDonald House can access the WA school curriculum during term time and fun activities during the holidays. 

So Toni said, no problem, my husband Courtney can make you a video! Oh all right, I’ll do it. It shouldn’t take too long, I thought. 

Three months later!

Yes, I got so involved, and was so touched by the stories, that I spent months filming all the wonderful work that the fantastic people do at that house.  Some fabulous footage taken – disco dancing, art therapy classes, playing literacy games, watching puppets and all kinds of other good stuff.  In some of the activities, the kids have a ball and all the team at the house were delightful and couldn’t do more to help. I saw up close the emotional rollercoaster that families, touched by illness, are on. 

Although the eventual film I produced is upbeat, when children are sick, there are highs and lows.  The house is one of those places where everyone is really happy, smiley and laughing one minute, and sad the next – you can really feel that. 

I came away understanding the crucial role of the House and the Learning Program, in keeping the kids up to date with their schooling while they are undergoing treatment. It is not just the kids themselves who are ill that need the program, but their siblings, as many people staying at the house are from the country. Whole families can spend weeks to months in hospital and it really affects them if they get behind in their education.

Once I started hearing the stories and seeing the positive impact, I got so involved with it. The team down there are just beautiful, down-to-earth people and you can’t help but fall in love with them and the work they do. 

So I just put everything into this video and went there as my as my schedule allowed.  

For the film, I kept it tight and on message, and we eventually had a beautiful little product to simply show the world how amazing this centre is. 

The team showed the film at an award’s ceremony in Sydney and they won that award – the video was able to demonstrate exactly how important the program was.  

It has been one of my most rewarding projects professionally for some time.  Go Ronald McDonald House team, your Learning Program is fantastic and telling the story has been a privilege. Thanks to Perth Media and Cate Rocchi in helping write this blog piece.

The Work of Heart Program at Rolnald McDonald House Perth


 

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