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MissingSchool has just discovered another technology application for keeping seriously ill kids connected to their classrooms. Enter Webchair… We will keep you updated as we investigate more about this application, which has been developed in The Netherlands. (Photo courtesy of

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Building Evidence for Transformative Practice. Granted!

$20,000 reasons to thank St George Foundation! This week, the Governors of St George Bank Foundation announced the approval of a grant of $20,000 to MissingSchool and the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY). The grant means that, together, we can champion first-of-its-kind research in Australia for kids who experience the multiple disadvantages of serious illness and separation from their school friends and education. Go here to read about the research for Keeping Seriously Sick Kids Connected to School: Building Evidence for Transformative Practice.

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Skyping His Way Through 5th Grade

Read about how Skype helped a kid in Missouri to stay connected to his classroom, following a bone marrow transplant for a rare blood disorder. Read the article and watch the video here.

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Have Bear Will Run

We applaud the efforts of Dave King, from the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Dave took on the challenge this year of running a marathon in every state of Australia, to raise funds for the Back on Track program which supports the educational, social and welfare needs of kids undergoing cancer treatment. Back on Track is funded by the Fight Cancer Foundation in Victoria, coordinated by the Royal Children’s Hospital Education Institute in Melbourne, and provided in NSW by the Children’s Hospital Westmead. Most recently, on 27 July 2013, Dave completed the Outback Marathon in the Northern Territory in just over 4.5 hours. Still to come are the Adelaide Marathon on 25 August (SA), the Ross Marathon on 1 September (Tasmania), and Blackmores Sydney Marathon on 22 September (NSW). Dave is accompanied on every run by a Children’s Hospital Bandaged Bear, a constant reminder of the kids who have inspired him. To support Dave, visit his website at Have Bear Will Run.

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We’ve seen reports from several schools now which are experimenting with robotic technologies to help sick kids maintain a presence in the classroom. These have generally been in the US, although the literature records their use in Russia and some Asian countries also. The robots are mobile, controlled by the student, and carry video-conferencing capabilities to allow the student to interact remotely, but in real time, with classmates and teachers. The robots are expensive, and privacy concerns have been raised as barriers to their adoption, but those students and teachers interviewed for media stories have been unanimous in their enthusiasm. The advertisement from Verizon probably says it all : they’re “making it possible … for a kid to feel like a kid again”.  

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MissingSchool Finds Success In The 100 Community Heroes Campaign

  The Calwell, Curtin, Jerrabomberra, and Wanniassa Community Bank® branches (Bendigo Bank) are delighted to advise that Missing School has been successfully nominated to receive a 100 Community Heroes Grant. The grant, worth $1000, will enable MissingSchool to run an event in the ACT for families, educators, health practitioners and researchers — hopefully the first of many around Australia — called “Keeping Seriously Sick Kids Connected”. The 100 Community Heroes Campaign is a way of showing support for community groups like MissingSchool who are out there making a difference every day. MissingSchool will attend a ceremony on Wednesday, 24 July, 2013 to accept the grant. A big thank you from MissingSchool to Calwell, Curtin, Jerrabomberra, and Wanniassa Community Bank® branches for recognising the importance of keeping seriously sick kids connected to their school communities.

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Kaleen Primary School — Kids Helping Kids

The Kaleen Primary School Representative Council, and their Co-ordinator Melissa Chiles, today ran a school-wide pyjama day to support seriously sick kids who miss school.  The students  and staff were able to come to school wearing their PJ’s and dressing gowns for a gold coin donation towards the work of MissingSchool.  Melissa Chiles spoke to the kids, at their Friday assembly, about the loneliness of being away from school for extended periods. The response to the pyjama day was fantastic, with Kaleen Primary donating $645 to MissingSchool. More importantly, it reminded kids of the importance of sticking together and helping each other through tough times.

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Prior to our 2013 Annual General Meeting, MissingSchool is holding a small consultation process to help inform our planning. It will be in Canberra, on Wednesday 26 June from 1.00-3.00 pm. We are inviting people who have useful and informed perspectives to contribute. To join us, call 0400 241 900, or email Cathy Nell. Invitees include: ACT Council of Parents and Citizens ACT Education and Training Directorate ACT Health Association of Parents and Friends of ACT Australian Catholic University Australian Child & Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network (Australian National University) Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth Canberra Hospital School Centre for Research and Action in Public Health, University of Canberra Children’s Healthcare Australasia Families ACT Independent Schools Council of Australia MissingSchool management committee and members Parent Support Group, Catholic Education Office Parents and carers of seriously sick kids Pediatrics Staff at the Canberra Hospital People who work with seriously sick kids Ronald McDonald Learning Program and Pathways Project Sydney Children’s Hospital (Kids Cancer Centre & Behavioural Sciences Unit) University of Canberra

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Students with Complex Health Needs

The ACT Health and Education and Training Directorates recently launched a joint initiative to investigate the provision of “appropriate, evidenced based, equitable and sustainable healthcare” in schools for students with complex health needs. Consultation papers providing information on international and national models of care, along with a proposal for an ACT Framework and Model, are available for download at : …

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The issue of improving access to education for children with critical or chronic illness is gaining momentum. It is heartening to know that it is becoming more widely recognised by health and educational professionals; it will be fantastic to have personal input from the children and their families.