Monthly Archives: June 2015

Bounce and boogie at Mates weekend

It was a whirlwind of bouncing, dancing and painting at the Very Special Kids Hospice Mates on the Move weekend.

The children kicked off the weekend with a messy art therapy session with the hospice Art Cabriolet therapist. The evening quickly ramped up to a dance party with a visit from DJ Captain America (Andrew Medland).

Sunday morning saw the kids enjoying a group grocery shop and picnic, and reaching for the sky at BOUNCE INC.

After an exhausting two days of activities, the weekend finished with the children creating artwork to take home to their mums.

Mates on the Move brings together children who are very mobile and have high behavioural needs requiring one-to-one care. The program enables these children to experience activities they normally would not be able to participate in.


Appeal for Imyjen

14 year old Imyjen Steele loves listening to music, riding the bus, and hanging out with her sister Auraria.

At three months old Imyjen was diagnosed with Swartz Jampel Syndrome, a condition preventing her from walking, talking or moving her muscles, and requiring her to use a wheelchair.

Caring for Imyjen is all consuming for single mum Christine Stow, who says she was confused about where to get help before finding Very Special Kids.

“Very Special Kids has been like a hand out of the darkness,” she said.

Christine said she was impressed that Very Special Kids Hospice had the equipment to cater for Imyjen’s needs.

“Getting care from other places was always a big hassle, but Very Special Kids is understanding and easy. I often found myself holding my breath with previous services, but when Imyjen’s at the hospice, I can relax,” she said.

It costs $7 million per year to operate Very Special Kids. Please help us continue to support children like Imyjen, and their families, by donating to the Very Special Kids Hospice Appeal.


Very Special Kids Hospice Appeal

Very Special Kids Hospice in Malvern is a children’s hospice where families can access planned and emergency respite, as well as end-of-life care.

It costs $7 million per year to operate Very Special Kids, and from April through June, Very Special Kids is fundraising to ensure we keep our doors open.

Please donate to our annual Hospice Appeal.

It was Australia’s first children’s hospice when it opened in 1996 and it remains the only service of its kind in Victoria for children with life-threatening conditions. Most children who stay at Very Special Kids Hospice have complex medical and care needs.

Providing 24 hour specialist nursing care, Very Special Kids Hospice is a home-away-from home that features bright lounge areas, soft-play areas, gardens, a music therapy room, a multi-sensory room and fun-filled school holiday and weekend activities.

As an integral element for our family support program, Very Special Kids Hospice provides families with much-needed planned and emergency respite care. The hospice makes it possible for families to have a break, to go out for dinner, on a holiday, or just to go home and catch up on the sleep they so desperately need.

During a respite stay at Very Special Kids Hospice, the hospice team of doctors, nurses, carers and volunteers become familiar with the child’s care needs and  work to a routine the child knows at home, which provides parents or carers the ability to relax.

While the family support is provided free-of-charge to those who need our care, it costs Very Special Kids $1,000 to provide one bed night at our children’s hospice.  We rely substantially on generous community fundraising and there are a number of ways you can donate to our important children’s charity.

Very Special Kids will also see the support of more than 1,000 participants as they compete in the 24 Hour Treadmill Challenge from 22-23 May, to raise funds for Very Special Kids Hospice.



Jack visits the Melbourne Wholesale Market

Melbourne Wholesale Market is helping us celebrate our 30th anniversary through a fundraising event called Market on the Move.

On 1 August 2015 more than 500 forklifts will make the journey from the market’s current home in West Melbourne to their new location in Epping, while raising funds for Very Special Kids and the 20th Man Youth Fund.

16-year-old Jack Evans, a regular visitor to Very Special Kids Hospice, got to see the market in action at West Melbourne and meet the stallholders, ahead of the big move.

Looking back on 30 years

Very Special Kids was founded in 1984 by two families whose children had died from leukaemia. They recognised the need for other families going through a similar experience to receive support.

Sister Margaret Noone became the organsation’s first employee on June 17th 1985, 30 years ago today. She remains the very active Patron of Very Special Kids.

We have supported thousands of Victorian families over the past 30 years, providing a holistic model of care through counselling, emotional support, networking and peer activities and trained family volunteers. Since 1996 Very Special Kids Hospice has provided respite and end-of-life care and remains the only children’s hospice in Victoria.

The number of families supported grows every year and has recently surpassed 900 for the first time in our history.

The images below capture a snapshot of a history dedicated to supporting children with life-threatening conditions, and their families.

Style session for mums

Three mums supported by Very Special Kids were treated to a style session ahead of the Fashion Sale on Saturday 13 June.

Lia Tan, Julie Odokeychuk and Juliet Mainwaring enjoyed a morning that was all about them with fashion blogger and stylist Jess Dempsey and GRACE Boutique.

Jess Dempsey is the Very Special Kids Fashion Sale Ambassador and GRACE Boutique has donated designer wares to the Fashion Sale for many years.

Read the full story online at the Stonnington Leader and catch all the behind the scenes action below.



GRACE Boutique in Toorak
Styling with Jess Dempsey
Photo Shoot with Leader Newspapers


Photography: Gavin Blue

Mums treated to R&R in regional Victoria

May was a month of rest and relaxation for mums living in regional Victoria who attended a Very Special Kids Pamper Day.

Women from Ballarat, Shepparton and Traralgon enjoyed massages and spa treatments, an excuse to focus on themselves, and a chance to meet other mums in a similar situation.

A highlight was the Ballarat Pamper Day held in nearby Daylesford at the Hepburn Springs and Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel.

Kathy Walters from Ballarat said that the Pamper Day allowed her some much needed “me time”.
“The whole day was fantastic and though our common thread is that of pretty terrible loss or the anticipation of it, we all seemed to have had a similarly relaxing and supported experience.

“The fact that the day was paid for was terrific, as I think most of us would have been unable to prioritise that amount of money on a day of indulgence that didn’t benefit the family,” she said.

Nicole O’Brien from Shepparton relished the chance to meet other mums.

“The surroundings and pamper sessions were lovely but the highlight for me was the opportunity to catch up with other mums on a similar journey,” she said.

Very Special Kids Family Support Worker Maria Bradford said the Pamper Days are about nurturing body, mind and soul.

“The mums are primary carers for their children and hardly have a break to regenerate, reenergise and reclaim their self-worth.

“The highlight for most was focussing on themselves, without children or the thought of being a carer even if only for a few hours,” she said.

The Pamper Days were made possible by the generous support of Hepburn Springs Spa, Bendigo Carers Support Services, UnitedWay, Federation Training and Shepparton TAFE.

Jess Dempsey’s Fashion Sale top picks

Fashion blogger and Very Special Kids Fashion Sale Ambassador Jess Dempsey has picked her favourite pieces from the vast collection of clothing that will be on sale at the Malvern Town Hall on Saturday 13 June.

Jess says she loves the opportunity to shop high street and designer labels, while supporting a charity she loves.

“It’s great to be able to pick up a brand-new designer dress for $50, but I also like knowing that the money I’m spending is going towards helping families and children that need it the most,” she says.

Find fashion and mum inspiration at Jess’ blogs and