A primary school team at Waverley College have dedicated their 2018 Write a book in a Day challenge to a classmate diagnosed with cancer.
Write a Book in a Day is a creative and challenging competition where groups of up to ten have just twelve hours to write and illustrate a book from start to finish. Completed books are donated to children in hospitals all over Australia.
In 2018, Waverley College’s Head of Library Services, Mr William Roberts, registered eight teams who staggered their writing days throughout July and August.
Under the watchful eye of Mrs Arkins, a very excited and hard-working team from Year 5 and another from Year 6 locked themselves away on 20 June, to write, draw and collaborate to produce original storybooks.
This was Mrs Arkins first time supervising a team for the competition and she confessed she was slightly nervous about the undertaking.
“I was mostly worried how I’d keep the boys on task,” Mrs Arkins said. “But what unfolded was one of the most rewarding school days of the year, for both the students and me!”
“The boys’ enthusiasm and team work to stay on task was amazing,” she said. “Even visiting staff from the senior school were surprised by the energy and organisation in the room.”
Written from the heart
But that wasn’t the only surprise of the day.
On opening the front cover of the Year 5 student’s book, Mrs Arkins found a dedication to a fellow student who is undergoing treatment for cancer.
“Hugo’s diagnosis has been front of mind for all of us at Waverley College,” said Mrs Arkins. “So it was incredibly touching when the boys spontaneously decided to dedicate their story to him.”
The Year 5 dedication to Hugo
Dedicated to the children, especially a Junior School Waverley Schoolboy called Hugo, who is going through a tough time battling against leukaemia in hospital. Keep fighting hard against the sickness.
Thank you for believing in yourself and keep trying and don’t let people or things get in your way of the things you love.
You may think you are ordinary but you are unique. This book was brought to you because we love writing and drawing. Do what you like and you will produce something amazing.
Kids’ cancer top of mind
That dedication is just one way Waverley College are helping young Hugo and other kids like him through Write a Book in a Day.
A philanthropic element of the event is to generate sponsorship dollars, all of which go to The Kids’ Cancer Project, a national charity funding childhood cancer research.
The school is also helping to generate awareness and empathy by educating parents as well as students about the disease and all the ways it can affect a young person.
Oncology nurse, Donna Drew, was invited to speak at the junior school and in her address she raised four key points which the faculty shared with parents in a monthly newsletter.
What every kid should know about childhood cancer
- It is not contagious. You can’t catch it by being near another child.
- The medicine to treat childhood cancer can cause kids to lose their hair. That is just a part of the treatment – your friend is still your friend.
- During treatment, your friend may come back to school for short periods of time, however their immunity (ability to fight disease) will be low. That means if you are unwell, then you need to stay away from them.
- The treatment for childhood cancer is long – it can take years. And it is intense – sometimes requiring hospital visits.
It was an excellent introduction to learning about the disease which Mr Greg Harris, Acting Director of the junior school, is keen to following up as Hugo makes progress and returns to his studies.
“Nurse Drew gave us great advice that will help keep Hugo engaged with his community which we see as being crucial for his ongoing socialisation and confidence building,” said Mr Harris.
“The first is to ensure parents keep their sick children at home, and advise the school if they come down any medical issue,” said Mr Harris. “A case of chicken pox was reported just this week and we thank that family for their prompt action in letting us know.”
“The second was telling us about a service that can bring Hugo into class via a Skype-style set up,” said Mr Harris.
Hugo’s spirits were lifted when one of the school’s teachers, Ms Hoare, delivered a book of personalised messages from a group of Year 6 students.
“His mum and dad saw the lift in his mood and demeanour instantly when this was presented,” said Ms Hoare. “He sat there flipping the pages and we all shared a few laughs at the funny anecdotes and beautifully written thoughts from the class.”
We hope he’ll get an even bigger boost when he finds out about his Write a Book in a Day dedication.