Ocean Keys Shopping Centre hosting annual Christmas fundraiser for Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation

Sophie Martin with her parents David and Shellie.
Sophie Martin with her parents David and Shellie.

SHOPPERS can help raise funds for the Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation during Ocean Keys Shopping Centre’s festive celebrations.

The Clarkson centre will start the fundraising at the Santa Arrival parade on Saturday, November 25 and continue through to Christmas Eve.

Foundation chief executive Denys Pearce said $3355 was raised via fundraising activities at the centre in November and December last year, which enabled the foundation to support a number of initiatives at the hospital.

“Each year the Clarkson community help make a difference to the lives of sick children who’ve spent time in the hospital through donations at Ocean Keys,” he said.

“Donations are essential to ensure a range of initiatives at the hospital continue to run, including those that aim to give patients and their families some respite from the stress and anxiety of being in hospital for long periods of time.”

Funds raised last year were allocated to the foundation’s ‘Moments of happiness’ fund which supports activities in Stitches’ Megazone play area, fortnightly free family barbecues along with appearances from sports teams and visiting performers.

The Martin family made use of the Megazone and enjoyed many family barbecues as Sophie (8), pictured with her parents David and Shellie, has needed treatment for genetic epilepsy syndrome.

Sophie was diagnosed with refractory myoclonic epilepsy when she was four months old and diskinetic hypotonic cerebral palsy when she was 17 months.

In 2012, after years of genetic testing, it was confirmed Sophie had Dravet syndrome, a catastrophic form of epilepsy.

Mrs Martin said due to Sophie’s medical condition she suffered many types of daily seizures, the worst of which is called status epilepticus, a continuous seizure.

“Status begins without warning, it is ridiculously scary to see and there is absolutely nothing that we as parents can do to help,” she said.

“When they happen, Sophie is transferred to intensive care, put on a ventilator and anaesthetised; the longest Sophie has been in status is 24 hours.”

Given Sophie’s medical condition, the Martin family spends about half of every year at the hospital.

“We joke that normal people go on holidays and we go to the hospital – it’s our home away from home,” Mrs Martin said.

“The fortnightly barbecues are a God-send; they give us an opportunity to step away from the hospital bed and spend time with other families and the staff and have a moment to have a conversation about everyday things.”

Volunteers will be collecting donations alongside Stitches the Bear at Santa’s Arrival Parade at 10am on November 25 at Ocean Keys Shopping Centre and firemen will be selling the annual foundation calendar in-centre most of the day.

Funds from the ticket sales from the sold-out Kids Club Christmas party on December 3 will also be directed to the foundation.

Sensitive Santa making a difference for kids with autism

FAMILIES with children on the autism spectrum can have some quiet time with Father Christmas with the return of Sensitive Santa at Ocean Keys Shopping Centre in December.

Sensitive Santa provides a calm environment for families, removing noise, crowds and queues that can trigger anxiety and stress.

Two of Tina Valentine’s five children have autism, making it difficult to get a photo with Santa in usual circumstances.

“Any social situation with a lot of people around can be very overwhelming for Harley (6) and Brock (5) and waiting in line is almost impossible,” she said.

“We generally avoid busy environments – before this I had actually given up on Santa Photos.

“There can be a lot of judgement from people when the boys get overwhelmed – people think they are throwing a tantrum or just being naughty.

“They don’t understand that children with autism have a very difficult time regulating their behaviour.”

Mrs Valentine said last year’s trial event was “calm and quiet” and a mother from Autism Carers Group, Tara Zadow, also attended it with her autistic son Oskar (5).

“I know a lot of families with children on the spectrum who just don’t go to shopping centres and I’ve told them they don’t have to give up on seeing Santa,” Ms Zadow said.

Ms Zadow said Oskar enjoyed his visit with Santa so much last year that he began asking about it as soon as he saw Christmas decorations in the shops at the start of November.

Families can also do Christmas shopping after their photo via ‘Quiet time shopping’ with select retailers open for shopping with dimmed lights and no music.

Call 9407 2400 to book.

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