CLDF Breakaway was our first ‘real-life’ event for two years. And while it was undoubtedly exciting for us, it meant a lot to young people and parents too, as Clare explains.
“My 12 year old son, Nathaniel, has had a liver transplant and has additional complex medical needs. He had never been away without us so when I heard about Breakaway, although I thought it sounded appealing, I wasn’t sure if the team would be able to cope with his needs. I discussed this with Michelle who assured me that they could and Nathaniel said yes to the idea straight away!
“There was, quite understandably, a great deal of preparation and communication before the trip and I think it shows the confidence this gave me in that, while I hoped that Nathaniel would settle in well and get on with the other young people, I never once worried about his well-being while he was away.
“I was right not to. That little bit of independence, in a supervised setting, did him a lot of good. He had a great time, doing things he had never tried before and realising that he could manage his health condition without us around was great for his confidence. Meanwhile, we were able to spend some quality time with his brother. However much we try and avoid it, it is so easy for a child with a serious health condition to demand more of parents’ time and it was nice to redress this balance a little.”
Nathaniel sums up Breakaway as: “Going on a small adventure with people who understand what it’s like to have hidden disabilities.”
And learning new skills was clearly part of the appeal: “The wild camp was the best bit as the shelter was great fun to build,” he continues. “It was quite easy to make friends with everyone and I feel like we bonded pretty well. I will definitely keep in touch with some of them. In fact one of the boys lives quite nearby so we can meet up in the summer.”
Clare’s advice to any parent who is given the opportunity of Breakaway is simple. “Definitely take it,” she says. “The benefits are huge for them and for you.”