Support means James can join friends on camp for the first time

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James loves his mum. But having her come to overnight camps in case he had a night-time seizure took some of the fun from this special time with friends.

Now, with the right support and plans in place, the sporty 16-year-old has achieved his goal of attending recreation camps without a parent for the first time.

‘James felt grown-up, independent and NOT different from his friends…this made all of the difference in the world!’ says his mother, Mary.

The sociable teen, who has epilepsy, autism and an intellectual disability, experiences regular night-time seizures, which initially restricted his ability to join his friends at overnight camps.

Through a collaborative effort between James’ mum, Mary, and the Gateways Support Services’ team – who were able to organise a dedicated overnight active support to stay at the camp to assist him, James could remain overnight and participate fully in all of the activities.

An active and sociable teenager – with basketball, bike riding and swimming some of his many hobbies – James wanted to get involved in all of the activities Gateways had to offer.

After participating in after-school programs and day trips for a few years – where he was a big fan of swimming and Zumba – his mum discovered Gateways overnight camps. Although James was keen to participate, his epilepsy made it very difficult for him to attend the camps independently.

His parents tried many different ways to ensure that James could participate fully in the camp experience. Mary would pick him up late at night and drop him back at the camp in the morning. If it were a long-distance camp, they would stay nearby to do the pickup and drop off. But these solutions were exhausting for the whole family.

‘James found this very tiring as camps were usually about 1 hour to 90 minutes away,’ Mary says.

Mary also tried staying overnight with James on the camp, but again, he would have to sleep in a separate room to his friend so was still missing out.

Working with Gateways, the family used James’ NDIS funding to have an overnight active support attend the camps with him. This meant James was able to attend recreation camps without a parent for the first time.

‘James came back from the camps feeling very proud of himself. He particularly likes that he no longer had to share a room with his mum whilst on camps! It was a real milestone reached!’ says Mary.

Knowing that he was getting excellent care, they could finally relax, a factor she attributes to the positivity, kindness and calmness of the Gateways Support Services camp staff.

Mary says James often says to her, ‘After COVID I want to go on a Gateways camp again, please mum.’

Achieving this goal has also given the family the confidence to try to increase James’ independence in other areas of his life where he is affected by his seizures.

To find out how Gateways Support Services can help you make the most of your NDIS plan and meet your goals, contact your support coordinator or nearest Gateways Support Services office.