All the children who stayed with us in late March went to the 2018 Royal Easter Show at Sydney’s Olympic Park. This was made possible with the support of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW. The group thoroughly enjoyed themselves and in their own words “had a blast!”.
They enjoyed everything from meeting the different animals, exploring the Arts and Crafts pavilion, eating multi-coloured fairy floss and shopping for Showbags, while some of the more thrill seeking children revelled in the rides.
People who have spent time at Stewart House often reflect on what it meant to them and sometimes they let us in on their insights.
Jess shares her story…
Í grew up in Broken Hill, living with my dad and brother from a very young age. I attended Stewart House in 2011 because I was from a single parent home, struggling financially, I didn’t have friends and I generally didn’t fit in; my Principal thought I needed a break.
My time at Stewart House was a time I will never forget and a time I will always be grateful for.
What I remember attending Stewart House in 2011
The staff, teachers and supervisors, how fun they were, making us laugh with fun activities. They were there for us whenever we needed anything. Making friends, going to the pool, Powerhouse Museum, Taronga zoo, Sydney aquarium and the beach.
Pictured above: Girls having fun at the beach in 2010
Not having many friends at school was tough, but in my cabin and class at Stewart House everyone became friends with each other. It was a good feeling.
Fast forward to 2018, I’ve lived in Adelaide for 2 years and am 1.5 years into a double degree at Flinders University, working part time and starting to make a life for myself. I have 5 weeks off over mid-year break. I could have stayed in Adelaide and worked a lot, but I wanted to do something a bit more meaningful with my time. I thought about what I could do and decided to email Stewart House.
Over the past 7 years I’ve thought about my time at Stewart House quite often; how much fun I had and how grateful I was to be chosen to attend. So now I’m back at Stewart House as a volunteer and it is still as amazing as I remember.
I can’t say that Stewart House changed my life; I went back to Broken Hill, went back to school and everything was the same. But the 12 days I was here were the funniest and happiest 12 days I had experienced in a long time and it was the break I needed at that point in my life. I hope I can help provide the kids here at the moment with a positive break from their home life, fun activities and good memories to cherish forever.
Pictured above: Jess in her origami class
So far I have spent time with both girl’s cabins and a couple of the class groups. I’ve been on excursions with the classes and stayed in doing activities too. I ran an origami lesson with class C. It was the first time I had taught a lesson and it went really well.
All of the staff here are really kind and the kids have been great too. I was really nervous when I first got here, but everyone made me feel welcome. I connected with the kids pretty quickly and I feel like the kids really like having me here. If there is one thing I wish the students at Stewart House could take away from their time here is that their current circumstances do not define who they are and where they can go in life. I believe everyone can be and do extraordinary things if they work hard, think positively and never give up.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves” – Anonymous
On a regular basis we receive feedback from our previous clients. Alfie shares with us, reflecting on his time at Stewart House.
My name is Alfie, I will be turning 71 this June 2018. I had the pleasure of attending Stewart House several times some 60 years ago when I was about 10-11 and 12 years of age. While reminiscing over my past life I was overwhelmed coming across some memories of my stay at Stewart House.
How well do I remember my stay, I believe the school teacher’s name at that time was Mr Engram or England or something like that. I recall him teaching us basket weaving and the song Botany Bay, enjoying his style of educating children. He also came with the children on our excursions to the Zoo, and to the theatre so watch “Around the World in Eighty Days”. I also remember how much I missed talking to him.
The cabins then and now, accommodation has improved over time:
I don’t recall the name of the dorm master but I do recall the double bunks and listening to the sound of the ocean while drifting off to sleep. I recall he would take us on walks on the beach learning about shells and creatures that lived in the water and on the shoreline.
I remember the dining room and enjoying some foods that were new to me. I remember having a slice of bread and jam after school, and after beach walks getting ready for dinner. I remember the TV room, watching the “Micky Mouse Club” and singing along with their melodies.
I remember the staff members telling us stories and teaching us poetry and encouraging us to write our own. I remember friends we made some who I kept in touch with for many years.
At the time of my visit I was living in Hurstville and attended Kingsgrove Public School. For the past 33 years I have resided in the city of Rockhampton, Queensland. Whilst living in Sydney, I worked for the then MWS & DB (The Waterboard), received my diploma in human resources and majored in training. When I left Sydney and moved to Queensland I continued my vocation in training mostly assisting the less fortunate to get employment, including those with disabilities, youth at risk and many other target groups, something I loved doing.
My love and gratitude to your staff for participating in such a wonderful career, caring for children.
Please feel free to share this letter, yours sincerely, Alfie
Then and now, Taronga Zoo:
Popular excursions at Stewart House include:
Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre
Travel on the Manly Ferry
Walks across the footpath on the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Visits to local parks & attractions
Since 1931, Stewart House has been to changing the lives of children and to giving them hope and aspiration for the future. Stewart House provides recreational and experiential activities designed to enhance children’s social and emotional wellbeing, self-esteem and resilience.
For Stewart House to provide these vital services to around 1,700 children every year, we need to raise $4.5 million annually. Across nine decades, staff from NSW public schools have supported our worthy cause through salary donations. We appreciate their generosity and commitment to helping public school children living in difficult circumstances.
Stewart House relies on an amazing team of teachers, supervisors, service staff and volunteers in order to look after the children and deliver its programs to all who attend. It also requires a dedicated team to manage the operations of the organisation and raise the essential funds needed to run our programs, as we rely almost entirely on the charitable donations of our supporters. Read on to meet Sarah who has had both teaching and fundraising roles.
How are you involved with Stewart House?
I was a teaching Assistant Principal at Stewart House School for three years and this year I’m employed as a School Liaison Officer. My current role involves visiting schools across the metropolitan area to promote our health and wellbeing programs and reaching out to teachers to discuss the benefits of becoming a regular donor.
My work at Stewart House has been the most rewarding work I’ve been involved in within a long career in education. It is uplifting to work alongside so many warm and compassionate people to support our students and provide them with enjoyable experiences, new understandings and skills.
Why is Stewart House important?
In my role as School Liaison Officer it is important for me to convey to teachers the considerable impact that our programs can make on the health and wellbeing of their students. The children have the opportunity to learn important life skills at a depth not covered by the regular school curriculum. As well as having a well-deserved break, the students leave Stewart House with a toolbox of self care, social and emotional regulation skills that can truly enhance their own wellbeing and relationships.
Since 1931 Stewart House has provided support to over 220,000 children and the demand persists today. Our compassionate and dedicated Stewart House team wants to continue providing this essential service to 1700 children each fortnight, long into the future, however, we need ongoing financial support to do this. Donations will allow us to assist many more children and offer them hope for the future.