Splash out on holiday
IN A national first for a public school and making its debut in the region, Orara High School has championed the Coffs Harbour Sony Foundation Children's Holiday Camp.
The camp caters for children with special needs, aged between five and 15, from Orara High School, Toormina High School, Coffs Harbour Public School, William Bayldon Public School and Grafton Primary School.
Along with giving parents and carers a rare respite, the camp creates a learning experience for teenagers who volunteer their time to help out.
It's a unique partnership between public and private schools, with Year 12 students from Orara High joining forces with their counterparts at Bishop Druitt College to be companions to the children during the camp.
The event is the epitome of inclusive. Children with a whole range of special needs are involved, including those with autism, epilepsy and vision impairment, along with kids from diverse cultures and backgrounds.
Orara High School teacher Jen Clarke said it's a positive model for the community.
"We are hoping to make it an annual thing," she said.
Sony Foundation board member Leanne Neal said the event afforded children with special needs the chance to experience a school camp, an opportunity they may otherwise not have access to.
Year 7 student Gabby Greco was thrilled to go on her first camp.
The four-day camp kicked off on Thursday and among an array of activities the participants went canoeing on Coffs Creek.
While excitedly awaiting her turn, Gabby wished the other kids luck as they eased into canoes and set off.
"I have not been canoeing before. I'm a bit nervous but think it will be so much fun," she said.