Rose Cox: Kookaburra Kids
Rose gives back to charity that helped her as a child
The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has enabled Kookaburra Kids to work towards creating their camp for children aged 10 – 12, whom live in families affected by mental illnesses. This is planned to be delivered on the 5-7 April 2019.
The camp venue has been booked and all recreational activities chosen for the weekend such as a giant swing, evening bushwalks to see wombats, canoeing and a team building exercise.
The grant has been essential to the work that Kookaburra Kids do for families affected by mental illnesses. Without this grant, kids would not be able to receive our program which combines mental health and pyscho-education with fun recreational and creative activities, whilst connecting children with common experiences.
Rose isn’t just a volunteer at the Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation. She’s a living testament to its success.
The foundation runs programs for children whose families are affected by mental illness.
When Rose was eight, her mother was diagnosed with transverse myelitis and spent a year in hospital unable to walk because of the rare neurological condition.
Her father had a breakdown, affected by depression, anxiety and drug addiction.
“We were a dandy inner-westie family and with a click of your fingers everything changed,” says Rose.
The young girl was thrust into a parental role. She was only in Year 4 and took on responsibility for looking after her little sister and her father. “I had to motivate my dad to shower, shave and clean his teeth, which he wouldn't want to do for weeks on end."
At Kookaburra Kids programs, children learn about mental illness, resilience and looking after their own wellbeing. There are also fun activities, which the kids may not have time for in their home lives.
“You aren’t alone, but as a small child you don’t know that,” says Rose. “Knowing other kids took a weight off my shoulders.
“I learned so much about dad’s mental illness. I learned it wasn’t my fault or my mum’s."
Fast-forward 10 years and Rose is now a volunteer and youth ambassador for the foundation, supporting the programs she attended as a child.
“I realised I could dwell on my life, whinge and maybe repeat the cycle, or I could turn a negative into a positive.”
In 2014 she became a youth ambassador, doing lunch talks.
She also became an advocate and sits on a government advisory council for carers, where she has an influence on legislation and policy.
Rose says it's nice to be voted a Westfield Local Hero, but her priority is ensuring more children receive support. “I do this regardless of any pats on the back.”
Thanks to the Westfield Local Heroes Program, people who were previously unaware of the work Kookaburra Kids have done and continue to do in the community. Have now heard about the work they do to help children like Rose who have parents or other families with mental illnesses. Rose is an ambassador and volunteer for Kookaburra Kids
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.