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What do you think of when you hear a child is in Foster Care?  I was keen to see how I might be able to support children living in Foster Care as part of my Service Learning. And in my search I found a fantastic South Australian organisation called Puddle Jumpers.  

The first thing I learnt is that some children are very happy in care and my stay with one family for their whole childhood. I wish it was like this for all the children who are in need of “out of home care” ….. but unfortunately, it isn’t. 

This week you our Senior School students watched a short documentary called “Growing Up Tough” in their Mentors.  The kids in this documentary talk about the challenges they are facing in out of home care.  

The film was launched at a breakfast I attended with Mr DeLacy, Mr Rueriger and a small group Year 11 boys. The breakfast was MC’d by two friends of mine – Melica and Carli. They are both 18 and have grown up in care.  Between them, they have lived in more than 30 different homes. They have had very difficult childhoods. 

Carli will complete her Year 12 this year!  This is an incredible achievement, given she has been enrolled in 19 different schools.  

I met Melicia and Carli at my first Puddle Jumper’s Camp. They went on the camps as children while in care, and have told me it was the only constant in their lives. Since turning 15, they have returned as volunteers, knowing that there are so many children that rely on the stability provided by a Puddle Jumpers camp.  

Puddle Jumpers helped them to feel heard at a time when they thought they didn’t have a voice. Puddle Jumpers support kids in Foster Care. They also support kids who may need to live with other family members, like grandparents. They also support kids who are awaiting care and are being cared for by the State government. These children are known as ‘wards of the state’ and live in group housing.  

Often siblings in care are unable to live together, and these camps are the only times they get to see each other. 

The camps provide activities which promote self-worth and foster self-esteem. On camp we have “ripple time”.  A time where the children are taught that just like a pebble dropped into a puddle, their actions have a ripple effect. We talk a lot about happiness being a choice we can choose to make for ourselves even in difficult situations.  

For example, being brave enough to ‘just smile’ at someone at a new school or in a new Foster home can make a positive ripple. A smile can change someone’s whole day.   

Camps aim to show the kids that even when they have very little say in what is happening in their own lives… what school they will attend… where they live, or who they live with, they do have the power inside them to make a tiny ripple… like a smile which is a start and may well lead to more smiles, and then a ‘hello’ and maybe a new friend. By starting a ripple, the children are taught that they have the power inside them to make change.   

I want to start a ripple here at SPSC! Today we held a fundraiser for these children. I was lucky enough to have some amazing friends willing to help. We sold sausages and drinks and child protection awareness pins with the money raised to be used to provide bedding, art supplies, face paint, food, drinks and activities for the camps.  

Please come and find me or send me an email if Puddle Jumpers sounds like a fit for you or you would like to know more about this fantastic charity. They are always looking for volunteers!

Archie Young
Year 11 student