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In February 2012, three Canberra mothers met in a suburban living-room to celebrate their children’s recovery from long and frightening critical illness.

They were also keen to discuss their concerns about the impact of those illnesses on their children’s friendships and schooling. Each child’s illness had been different but they shared a common experience of deep anxiety, loneliness, and isolation after more than 12 months’ of school absence. Those who had returned to school found it very difficult to adjust and to form friendships, and their learning suffered.

Cathy Nell, Gina Meyers and Megan Gilmour realised that there was no framework in place to support their children’s need to maintain contact with their schools and classmates and to keep up their education. As they spoke to more parents, educators and health professionals, it became clear that these were problems shared by many sick children and their families.

From that meeting, MissingSchool was born, a charitable organisation dedicated to raising awareness of the educational issues facing children who miss school because of critical or chronic illness, and to exploring ways of supporting the children, their families, their teachers, and their learning through very difficult times.

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