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My name is Adrian and I was hit by a car on October 28, 1987- 2 days before my 14th birthday. I was knocked off my bike and landed on the road head first.
I woke up after being unconscious for 4 weeks. I suffered Acquired Brain Injury- unable to walk, talk and very minimal use of the left side of my body.
Doctor said that I will slowly improve over the next 2 years, but talking will be the last to improve. I was determined to prove him wrong, so I started talking after a month. It took me 6 months to be able to get out of my wheelchair and then another 6 months to walk unaided (albeit slowly!).
After 1 year, I went back to school part-time. I traveled from school to hospital appointments daily. It was difficult for me, as I had to deal with the pressures of school and rehabilitation concurrently, but I managed to adapt, grow and continue through and pass year 12.
After school I worked for a while selling lollies door to door (where I ended up eating half my profits!), until I got a job working at a clothing wholesaler in Carlton. And I’m still here 26 years later.
I’ve had many adventures along the way- many times I fell over and had to pick myself up (both metaphorically and physically!).
Although I had visited camp in 2016, as part of a research study being undertaken with Heads Together and Monash University looking at the experience of a recreational camp for families with a child or young person with acquired brain injury, my first ‘real’ camp was in May 2017 as a family volunteer.
It was a weekend which blew me away. I got to know my volunteer family and spend time with them. I met other families. I met other volunteers. We talked, played games that made us laugh, and danced at the disco. I was touched to hear people share stories and experiences at the Fire of Friendship, but it was Magic Moments which really moved me. I thought that as I was a new volunteer, I wouldn’t really be in people’s minds. But for each statement read out, I felt a hand touch me and I realised that in some way people remembered me.
What do I get out of volunteering? As a neuropsychology student and researcher, being at camp gives a human story to ABI and reminds me to keep that story foremost in my mind and in my work. As a person, volunteering at camp reminds me to face challenges head on – and always try to see the sunny side of things. Thank you for the opportunity to join the Heads Together community. I look forward to many more camps!
Getting involved with Heads Together has been THE BEST THING I have ever done. They provided so much love, laughter and support to everyone involved- whether it be young people with the injuries or their families. To keep this organisation doing the amazing work that it does, I have chosen to walk 50K in a day and hope that you can get behind me.
Marina’s fundraising target = $1000, sponsor her here
“I remember the highlight as we were approaching the end. As we stumbled into our 94th kilometre we were greeted with hugs and well wishes from the Heads Together family.”
“I chose to challenge myself, to push past the point where my body said stop. For Reuben, my son with an ABI, he has no choice. Reuben meets challenge face on and with a beautiful smile. Reuben inspires me more than he knows.”
“The 2017 walk was bigger and better with lots of new walkers and a new route. It was such an inspiration having Andrew and his family join us for the weekend and the Patford family get involved on Sunday. Having Heads Together families join us showed everyone what you can do if you put your mind to it.”
And they are all coming back to do it again! Why not join them and register a team
Millie is one of our valued long time Volunteers at our Family Camps and has bravely taken on the challenge to walk 30km.
Her fundraising target $500 – sponsor Millie here
I have been involved with Heads Together for so long that I can’t remember the first year I went to camp! Many years later I walked part of the 100km walk for moral support and was chief massage therapist.
The following year, in 2016, Kate convinced me to walk the full 100km. I thought it couldn’t be that hard, how wrong I was. The worst part was the mental challenge, to not let that little voice inside my head tell me I was not able to finish. The pain I went through was nothing compared to what Heads Together families face on a day to day basis and that’s what kept me going.
The 2017 walk was bigger and better with lots of new walkers and a new route. It was such an inspiration having Andrew Bruce and his family join us for the weekend and the Patford family get involved on Sunday. Having Heads Together families join us showed everyone what you can do if you put your mind to it.
The power of numbers made a huge difference in the motivation to finish. I think we would have carried Andrew over the finish line if we had to. It also allowed everyone to walk at their own pace and you never felt like you had to keep up. Luckily this was the case as none of us could ever keep up with Suzy, she was a machine.
For me, my second year was definitely easier than the first. So, everyone who walked this year, you have to come back again next year, I promise it gets easier.
It started with the sudden loss of my Dad and the lightbulb that switched on when I realised that the people who I felt most comfortable with were the families I was working as a kids physio at Vic Rehab, who had also experienced loss and trauma and who just “got it” they knew what to say and how to be.
It made me think why aren’t we bringing these families together, they are the very best people to be supporting each other, through this experience of ABI that no one else can possibly understand
Then I started getting other heads together, I shared my idea with other passionate people and I found Cath Bucolo who had been busy building a network for young people with an ABI. Our ideas connected and we brought together some families who we were working with and Heads Together Camp was born.
From the start is was about respect, listening to families and what they needed and wanted, it was about putting families first and understanding that they were the experts and we were the ones who needed to learn.
It was about courage, about trying something new and putting yourself out there and believing in the team you were part of. It was about the courage of our first families, people like the McKirdy’s whose kids are all here today as part of our volunteer team. They were 3, 8 and 11 when they first came to camp, and they’ve all been the backbone of our camp kids ever since. It was also about the courage of our first volunteers, like Aaron Purnell, who was our first ABI volunteer and who went from being a 21year old coping with an ABI to becoming a peer mentor and amazing sounding board for parents at camp to finally have someone to talk to about the possibilities for their kids in the future.
It was also about generosity, starting with the generosity of my wonderful Mum Barb who provided the funds to allow Heads Together Camp to become a reality. It was about the generosity of the YMCA who took a chance on our inexperienced crew and gave us the partnership and camp skills we needed. And it’s still about the generosity of all our incredible volunteers who keep coming back to create this amazing space for families to relax and connect.
And along the way camp has become very much about acceptance, about being part of a community who really get that every ABI is different and that we all manage in different ways. It’s about understanding that the experiences families have been through bind us all together as a community and a big extended family who are there to share the ups and the downs, to support others and be supported. Camp gives us all the opportunity to create something meaningful and good from the hard times that you’ve all been through.
I was blown away by the community of incredibly warm, kind and courageous people who welcomed me in like an old friend.
As a physiotherapist I frequently work with young people and their families during their most challenging periods; following a new diagnosis, after a significant injury or accident, or during periods of very ill-health. One of my goals for volunteering at camp was to experience and support families during their happier times… and this I definitely did!
I was blown away by the community of incredibly warm, kind and courageous people who welcomed me in like an old friend. The stories of what Heads Together has meant and continues to mean to families and volunteers alike were truly inspiring. I experienced a community where people felt safe enough to share their vulnerabilities and fears, yet supported enough to develop new skills and confidence to achieve their goals. Heads Together has clearly created a community supporting people to thrive.
The weekend was full of so many warm and fuzzy moments, I left feeling invigorated, inspired and enriched.