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Another successful MS Plus Family Camp was held in November, with the MS Readathon-funded camps running for more than two decades for people living with MS and their families. Readathon engages kids to be part of supporting people with MS, and the camps are a great example of how the readathon changes lives.

‘Our camps offer the opportunity for families to connect, have fun and be supported and support others through their experiences of being a person living with MS or a family member providing care,’ says Jodi Haartsen, Executive Manager, Client Engagement & Wellbeing and camp facilitator.

Family camps, are held at different locations throughout Australia each year and provides the opportunity for families come together and share the challenges they experience. The outdoor settings of the camp sites offer a beautiful setting and a range of fun activities that the kids and adults can enjoy and cheer each other on as they take on a challenge. Shared mealtimes bring people together with stories and moments that create quality connections.

‘I loved that there was a shared understanding which quickly created a sense of safety and community. Other parents and the MS Plus Coordinator assisted with caring for our children when needed, which allowed my husband and I some space to split across activities when required,’ one participant said.

Another participant said, ‘I loved the support and encouragement we all gave each other’s families during the activities. Some activities I didn’t feel confident in taking part in, but others I had a ball and really challenged myself. There was so much acknowledgement from my family, Matt and Jodi for the huge effort I had put into this one particular area, I was really proud of myself!

‘The massages were absolutely amazing, the lady was perfect, and talented. I can’t really pick one defining point that I liked most because we adored every second. I’m so grateful that our family was chosen to attend. I wish we could all go every year!’

Jodi says, ‘Our family camps are an opportunity to help strengthen relationships within the family, to provide a well-deserved break for families and create wonderful memories that strengthens the whole family's sense of resilience.

‘The sheer joy of seeing kids fly high on a giant swing, doing what they never believed they could and being encouraged by the group, is such a privilege for me to be part of.’

Families also have an opportunity to find out more about MS Understanding the symptoms of MS through games and activities can create genuine understanding for kids and help put into an action what can be hard to describe into words.

‘After experiencing being so alone when my MS diagnosis came through at the beginning of the pandemic, I didn’t know where to turn to for support. I felt medically supported, but that was it.

‘The camp on the weekend more than made up for it. I felt so supported and cared for, educated and being amongst fellow MSers, there was a real camaraderie. I’ve come away feeling a lot more positive and knowing that I’m not alone on this journey. The camp is so needed for all MS families, it’s a lifesaver in a lot of ways.’

Registrations for the next MS Plus Family Camp in April will open in early 2023. Keep an eye on the website for more information, or sign up to our monthly newsletter msplus.org.au/contact-us

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