In the past week, Southern Cross University student Kareena Barraclough has met the president of the Bahamas and mingled with gold medallists. Tomorrow she will be on the ground to meet and greet athletes and officials when the Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens kicks off.
As a Games Shaper – a GC2018 volunteer – Kareena has helped stage one of the world’s largest sporting events in her own city, but when athletes and visitors pack up to go home next week her Games legacy will continue to shine.
The second-year nursing student is one of 30 Southern Cross University health students who have taken up the call for student volunteers at the 2018 Kidney Kids Camp, held from April 18 in Runaway Bay, Gold Coast.
The holiday camp gives children and young adults living with chronic kidney disease an opportunity to build connections and confidence with valuable relationships and memories; offers their siblings a better understanding of chronic kidney disease; and provides respite for parents – all with a Commonwealth Games theme.
“These kids often have to travel to hospital for kidney dialysis and they deal with a lot of stress so this camp is all about helping them relax and enjoy their holiday as much as possible with their siblings, while being cared for by health professionals and health students,” Kareena said.
“It is great to have a national camp like this held here on the Gold Coast, and I feel very lucky to have been chosen for the role, which will count towards 40 hours of my professional placement.
“I wanted to volunteer last year and was unable to, but this time around I was successful in being selected, and will be helping with activities, including daytime sports events, movie nights, a trip to a theme park, all while making sure the kids are being well looked after.”
The camp will be split into different ‘countries’, with teams of five to six kids and their volunteer leaders each allocated a different Commonwealth nation.
“I am on team ‘New Zealand’ which will be awesome as we get to dress up in Kiwi outfits and tailor our activities to suit,” Kareena said.
“With this experience, I’m looking forward to learning more about managing chronic kids’ health through working with the children and the professionals leading each team, and being open-minded about where this could lead after I’ve completed my nursing degree.”
Kareena, 26, previously volunteered in a Vietnam orphanage, worked as a USA au pair and travelled through North America and Europe before deciding the come home to Australia to study nursing at Southern Cross University – a degree she plans to use overseas.
Despite studying full time and working two jobs in hospitality, Kareena has managed to juggle university exams with Games volunteering and her upcoming practical placement at the camp. Her first day volunteering for GC2018 was on March 20 where she greeted athletes and officials arriving at Gold Coast Airport – right next door to where she studies nursing at Southern Cross University.
“It’s good to give back through volunteering and I’ve been wanting to do that at the Commonwealth Games ever since the Gold Coast was announced as the host city. No matter where I was going to be in the world, I wanted to come back for this event, which has been the experience of a lifetime, meeting some of the most amazing people and showcasing our amazing city to the world,” she said.
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