Welcome to Bear Cottage, A Very Special Place
Growing up with a seriously sick brother or sister involves a level of physical, mental and emotional energy that most of us will never understand. Luckily, there’s a special place known as Bear Cottage who are there to help.
Bear Cottage is a medically supported home away from home where families can take a physical and emotional break from the stresses of caring for a sick child.
Not only do they provide medical care but they also have additional services for the whole family, to help them relax and feel at ease. It’s the only children’s hospice in NSW and, in the past 12 months, has cared for over 300 children and their families.
There aren’t many big sisters as patient, dedicated and loving as Chelsea Privitera.
Chelsea shares some insider sister knowledge about her brother Cam, “he can’t walk or talk but other than that he’s like a normal eight-year old. He watches movies, he’s addicted to technology”.
If he’s crying, I’ll go and give him a hug, so sometimes I like stay with him for a while and we’ll watch a movie together
Cameron was six-months old when his parents realised he wasn’t developing like other bubs his age.
Chelsea and Cam’s mother Rachel Privitera sat down to speak with The Project.
Rachel explained, “we were thrown into the world of hospitals and doctors’ appointments and MRIs to try and find out what exactly is wrong with Cameron”.
It took doctors a year to put their finger on it... and the news wasn’t good.
They diagnosed Cameron with cerebral palsy, scoliosis and epilepsy. It means the eight-year old has up to 10 seizures a day and is fed through a tube.
“There’s medication, there’s the seizures, there’s the feeds”. Rachel states there is so much responsibility and you don’t hand over the care easy to anyone really. Bear Cottage means to us a holiday, a break, emotional support for our whole family,” Rachel told The Project.
For a few weeks a year, the medical team takes care of Cameron and the whole family can take a breath.
Bear Cottage cares for 6-8 children and their families at any one time. Each family can stay for up to four weeks per year. It costs families nothing to stay.
Through music, art and play therapy, Bear Cottage staff try to increase happiness, responsiveness and empowerment to these children and their families.
“it’s very exciting to be on like the stage because it’s like we’re showing what we can do together as a team,” Chelsea told The Project.
Judy King is an art therapist at Bear Cottage. Judy told The Project, “obviously a lot of the attention goes to the little one that’s sick…this camp is about the siblings themselves, to express what it’s like having a brother or sister with a life limiting illness” .
It’s a chance for these kids to have their moment in the spotlight.
It costs $4 million a year to run Bear Cottage. The facility receives some government funding but also relies on donated funds to provide the programs that make it unique. If you want to show your support, you can donate here: https://support.bandagedbear.org.au/donation-bear-cottage
Watch The Project 6.30 tonight to see our story on Bear Cottage.