Help when it’s needed most
Every child deserves the chance to be the best they can be, to get the most out of life, regardless of their ability or background. For some families, having a child with special needs can be a life-long challenge.
Imagine if your child needed round-the-clock care that you just couldn’t afford. Or an expensive piece of medical equipment to help them walk or talk.
Where would you turn for help?
For children who are sick, disadvantaged or who have special needs, that place is Variety – the Children’s Charity. Each year, thousands of these children and their families turn to Variety for support when they need it most. And many more are waiting patiently for caring people like you to help them.
You can make the biggest difference of all.
Variety is where families find help when government assistance isn’t available. When they can’t afford specialist care and equipment for their child. When there’s nowhere else to turn.
Your donation today will help change kids’ lives in ways you may never have imagined.
Sunny is best described as a happy, easy-going boy.
He loves going for a bike ride with his Dad and can often be found rolling around the house giggling. Sunny especially loves listening to a good story. In fact, books are a big part of life in his household. Big brother Angus enjoys reading stories to Sunny and plays with him endlessly.
Sunny hasn’t always had it easy. He faces many physical challenges, multiple surgeries and enteral tube feeding. Despite this, at only two years of age Sunny has a curiosity for life which continues to inspire his family, friends and those who meet him.
While the family didn’t have an iPad for Sunny, medical experts suggested it could be an important aid for his development. Read to find out how Variety stepped in to help Sunny.
In 2015, Archie was diagnosed with an extremely rare neurological disease called Acute Flaccid Myelitis, which affects the nerves in the spinal cord. The condition had only affected two children in Australia at the time of his diagnosis.
Variety provided Archie two grants, one for a cough assist machine in 2017 as well as a LiteGait system and endurance treadmill in 2019.
Raising kids can be hard at the best of times, but for single mum Amanda, money has always been tight. With three girls now in high school, keeping up with the technology requirements for their schooling life was hard.
Having additional learning needs was also placing additional pressure on the family. 14-year-old Josie has Asperger Syndrome, and 12-year-old Sarah is in a special class at high school due to learning difficulties.
Through Variety’s Tech4Schools grant, a basic laptop package was delivered to the girls to help them continue their studies at home and support their learning when back at school.
Through Variety’s Tech4Schools grant, a basic laptop package was delivered to Sienna to help her continue her studies at home due to mental health issues.
Sienna’s mum says that she is able to focus on her studies now she has the education technology she needs to learn from home.
BRIONY AND JACQUELINE'S STORY
For Briony and Jacqueline, the impacts of drought, bushfires and COVID-19 on their peaceful rural life also meant not keeping up at school. Thanks to the Variety Tech 4 Schools grant, the sisters are back on track with their education.
Hannah has grown up with wigs from Variety’s Hair with Heart program.
Now 13, Hannah started high school last year and her wig helped her make the transition into a whole new world.
Hannah’s parents talked a lot with her new teachers before school even began, wanting to minimise any additional difficulties in adjustment for their daughter who has Alopecia with some patches of hair. The school was very supportive, wanting Hannah to be comfortable and confident in herself and suggesting she come along however she felt best.
Hannah started high school wearing her wig but she’s worn it less and less, because she’s more and more confident, which is exactly what we want for all kids.
Amalia is a bubbly, funny 8yr old who loves Minecraft, coding and roller skating. Wearing her wig for parties, school occasions and events means she can focus on having fun with her friends. Having lost all her hair at age 5, it can be a little more difficult to find confidence in situations that are new. So, Amalia’s Variety wig plays an important role.
Leah used to think having no hair meant she wasn’t the same, but two Variety wigs later, her self-confidence has grown as much as she has.
Wearing a wig gives the eight-year-old a boost of confidence to do all the things other kids do, even presenting news in front of the whole class.
Plus, she and her friends share a love of styling their hair with fun accessories.
Rachel, Leah’s mum, says her daughter has come to understand she is enough just as she is, even without hair – all thanks to having access to a Variety wig.
At 13 years old, Layla Sharp is an athletics and swimming superstar.
Born with a vision disability and peripheral blindness, Layla has never let her vision get in the way if pursuing her sporting dreams. She is incredibly driven and wants to wear green and gold to represent Australia at the next Commonwealth Games & Paralympic Games.
Jennifer from Glen Innes has achieved some incredible milestones as a performing artist.
Under the performing name Efa, Jennifer started song writing at just 12 years old.
For several years, Jennifer has been heavily involved in state and regional performing arts events including CAPERS, Schools Spectacular, State Dance Festival, Regional Dance Festival, State Solo Vocal camp selection, State Drama Festival and GIHS Dance Spectacular.
Emmagen from Northern NSW is a very talented singer who has achieved so much despite her young age. She loves singing to big audiences and has dreams of becoming a world famous artist. Her voice is both powerful and vulnerable and is able to express emotion way beyond her years.
Born to sing, her mother can remember at 2 years of age Emmagen singing nursery rhymes in the car; and being so in tune. Little did Emmagen’s family know then how her singing would have such a huge impact on their lives.
Tilly Jones is a young composer and cellist from Lismore, NSW, Australia. The 19-year-old has not let her multiple diagnoses, including Cerebral Palsy, ADHD and Aspergers stop her.
Tilly has been playing music for 9 years and composing for 7 years. She has composed commissioned pieces for the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival, Northern Rivers Youth Orchestra and the Evans Head Living Museum. She also plays in numerous ensembles and groups around the Northern Rivers region. She is extremely talented with a very bright future.
Kallan Strong has two passions in life, Ten Pin Bowling & Photography.
An incredibly talented tenpin bowler, Kallan shows sheer determination in competing over the last several years which has resulted in him receiving an incredible 140 medals and countless trophies.
He will continuously step outside his comfort zone and try his hardest to be the best he can be and bowl against some very talented and highly rated adult bowlers who are professionals.
New Sunshine Coach for Mitchells Island
The Manning River community came together recently to celebrate the handover of a new Sunshine Coach for Mitchells Island Public School.
Local parents, teachers, students and Member for Myall Lakes, Mr Stephen Bromhead MP, enjoyed checking out the new coach during a special morning tea at the school.
The coach has been provided under a community grant offered by Variety – the Children’s Charity to support kids in need and to ensure all kids have the same opportunities in life.
“The coach will help should we ever have to evacuate the students quickly and safely in those emergency situations. It also means we can access local sporting venues, cultural performances and community activities to give our kids the chance to participate in all there is to offer outside the school gate,” Mitchells Island Public School Principal, Michelle Wilson said.
A keen skier since he was just two years old, Zac joined Perisher Winter Sports Club at age 7. Now 16, the talented alpine skier from Berridale, NSW has had the opportunity to train and ski in some of the world’s most amazing locations including Montgenevre, Grindelwald, Heavenly and Winter Park.
Zac has always dreamed of competing in the Winter Olympics so when at 15, he was diagnosed with Charcot- Marie Tooth Disease, he had to think twice about whether that was still possible.
Fortunately for Zac, he had his supportive Mum Yvette standing proudly in his corner. “I said to him, your goals haven’t changed mate, it’s just your pathway that has.”
13-year-old Grace fell in love with the violin when she was just five.
Over the past eight years, she has achieved many of her goals but the talented teenager has plenty more in mind.
“I have placed 3rd in two violin competitions, I am currently working on grade 7 violin, and I am now a Sydney Youth Orchestra ambassador,” says the young Redfern resident.
“I would love to be in a prestigious orchestra or win a large violin competition. I’m currently completing the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) so another goal is to complete the AMUS (Associate in Music) and LMUS (Licentiate in Music) in future years.”
Give a young child a chalkboard and they will have a scribble or maybe practice their A, B, Cs. When Luke’s mum, Katherine, handed him a chalkboard at age 4, he drew music notes.
“I’ve always known he was creative musically. I’m a musician and I also teach music theory and from a young age he would use my notation software to try and write out film scores from memory,” she says.
Now a Year 9 student at Northmead Creative and Performing Arts High School, 15-year-old Luke has a broad range of musical passions and film interests.
Luke was diagnosed with severe developmental motor dyspraxia in 2010 but thanks to ongoing occupational therapy, exercise physiology and assistive technology, it comes as a surprise to most of his teachers and his friends that he lives with a disability.
Bowraville Pays It Forward
They say one good deed deserves another and that adage certainly rings true in the tiny town of Bowraville on the NSW north coast.
The rural community had already been affected by drought when the devastating bushfires of 2019 saw many families lose their homes. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, it brought with it disastrous consequences for those who had already suffered through tough times.
As schools all around the country closed, Bowraville Central School reached out to Variety NSW/ ACT and applied for Variety’s Tech4Schools grant. We were thrilled to be able to support the school by supplying 129 laptops for their students from Kindergarten to Year 12 – many of whom had no access to technology at home.
Bowraville Central School, Community Liaison Officer, Megan Cochrane, said the students and teachers were overwhelmed to receive support in such a time of need. The Student Representative Council (SRC) guided by Teacher, Jan Sheriff, wasted no time in taking on the fundraising initiative and asking for volunteers to take the chop.
Say what you will about Married at First Sight, but a celebrity encounter during the show has helped a sick boy who hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in his entire life.
Gina son George,10, was born with a rare condition that has little awareness and no funding. It’s called Hirschsprung Disease, and it involves missing nerve cells in the muscles of part or all of the large intestine – also known as the colon. Some children like George have to sleep in an elevated position due to severe reflux. The family was using a wedge for George, but as he gets bigger, what she really needed for his was a hospital-style bed so she can easily elevate her son so he can’t slip off the wedge during the night.
When our CEO David Sexton read a 9Honey story about the family he knew Variety could help.
Malachi is a 14 year old boy who is absolutely thriving in athletics.
In foster care since the age of 3, Malachi has excelled with a truly inspiring list of sporting achievements.
Since 2018, Malachi has competed in the CIS Cross Country, PSSA Cross Country, CIS Athletics, Casino 2km Marathon, PSSA Athletics, National Cross Country QLD, National Athletics Melbourne and this only just names a few.
When Lismore student Giaan was entering Year 10 and required a new MacBook Pro, she came to her mum with the only possible solution, she had no choice but to leave school and get a job.
As a single mother, Wendy was struggling with mortgage repayments and household bills. She had considered purchasing a second-hand computer, but they were still out of her price range.
“When a friend told me about the Variety Grant I didn’t know if our need would be great enough. I knew we had rather limited finances, but you always assume there are people out there who are much worse off than you.”
You may not expect to see a skateboarding clarinettist, but Anna Chung has been defying expectations since she was seven. Now 18, Anna loves combining her talents for both interests, but it is her skills on the clarinet that have won her numerous awards and now see her living away from her Sydney home and studying Music Performance at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.
Hi, my name is Sienna, and this is a story about my friend alopecia.
She wasn’t always my friend though!!
My Mum first noticed a bald patch on the back of my head, so she made an appointment to see a Dermatologist to check it out. Being told at the age of 11 that I was most likely going to lose all my hair was not an easy thing for me to hear. So, I guess you could say alopecia and I got off to a rocky start.
Like all eight-year-old kids, Gigi likes to pack a lot into her days. When she’s not at school, she loves to play with her little sister, make home-made pizza or visit her grandparents.
Gigi’s main mode of transport is a wheelchair. The little girl was diagnosed with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy at nine months of age. Specialty equipment is all part of life for Gigi.
But like little girls do, Gigi has grown, and her existing wheelchair didn’t suit her needs anymore. That’s where Variety stepped in.
With family 4 hours away in Taree young Joshua and his mum, Suzie, are making a life in Maroubra.
Joshua, aged 9, lives with epilepsy, severe gut dysmotility requiring PEG feeds and global developmental delay but that doesn’t stop him. While Joshua already had a wheelchair, he desperately needed a walker so that he could learn to walk on his own.
Kyla’s Variety Journey
A kind and compassionate young girl, 12-year-old Kyla donated her beautiful long locks to our Hair with Heart program in November 2019. In December, she was elected school captain and when she began Year 6 in January 2020, she really hit the jackpot getting both her best friend in her class and her favourite teacher! It was the very next month that Kyla’s sister found a perfectly round bald patch on the top of Kyla’s head. What began smaller than the size of a 10c coin, quickly grew and Kyla was diagnosed with alopecia areata.
Variety Heart Scholarship helps Charlie on her way to becoming a classical musician.
”Charlie’s passions are classical music and art, when she is not on her flute or piano, she is creating art. Music and art bring her great joy along with spending time with her friends, cat, dog and me.” says mum Sharon
The costs of performing at an advanced level, especially for kids living in regional areas, can often limit their ability to pursue their dreams. For Charlie, 17 from Murwillumbah, that dream is of becoming a classical musician of merit.
When Variety Heart Scholarship recipient Rory, 17, needed to fill a gap in his Year 10 class schedule Japanese seemed like an easy option. He couldn’t have imagined the impact of that decision.
“I got to stay a whole week in Tokyo, then a week in Togane, where I stayed with a family and went to high school. I learned more Japanese in those two weeks than in a whole 18months. The experience of going to Japan, it was incredible, it changed my life and without the Scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to go.”
Read on to find out how Variety Heart Scholarship played a part in Rory’s incredible trip to Japan.
Variety Heart Scholarship recipient Ashlyn has an artistic eye and a passion for painting. It’s a way for her to unwind and lose herself in the medium, creating images of intense meaning and beauty. To help Ashlyn pursue her artistic dreams she received a Variety Heart Scholarship in The Arts in 2018.
Variety Heart Scholarship recipient Gabriella is making waves in the pool.
Gabriella represented her school and then went on to represent Combined Independent Schools (CIS), at the NSW all schools swimming championships in Sydney. Winning two gold and two silver medals at the NSW CIS swimming championships in Sydney, Gabriella also broke a NSW Multi class record in backstroke, previously held by another Variety Heart Scholarship recipient Maddie Elliot. Taking it that next step Gabriella has also been selected to compete in the Australian All schools swimming championships in Hobart.
Dreaming of becoming a robotic engineer Cj put his Variety Heart Scholarship in Education to good use, entering a variety of science competitions and investing a new laptop to allow him to research on the go.
”I enjoy experimenting and making a difference. The area of Science is huge and I get excited about what lays ahead” says Cj.
Not everyone enjoys the sound of a recorder but Variety Heart Scholarship recipient Phoenix, 11, is taking his recorder to the Sydney Opera House.
Phoenix is passionate about his music, taking every opportunity to perform in his local community, at school events, and in competitions. “I like doing what I do and it’s really fun”. said Pheonix
Dedicating his time to one sport wasn’t enough for Variety Heart Scholarship recipient Oscar, 18, who’s been making a name for himself as a swimmer, footballer, and a cricketer.
The last year has been a whirlwind for Oscar. “My Variety Heart Scholarship has given me the ability to fearlessly commit to my goals.” said Oscar “They have supported so much of my travel and given me independence to make decisions in regards to my training that I otherwise would not have.”
Since representing Australia at the Junior National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas, Chris continues to be a stand out in bull riding across the globe.
In January, Chris was invited to ride at Alec in Tamworth at the Xtreme Bulls Racing event. He also happened to be the youngest to compete.
Since competing, Chris has been named in the top 5 bull riders for the Xtreme Bulls, a huge achievement and one he is truly grateful for.
Variety Heart Scholarship recipient Kiki, 13, knows what she wants in life – to act.
“I love acting. That’s it. That’s what I want to do with my life. I want to act, be on Broadway. I know I have to study as well as I need a backup plan, but acting is my life, and I am trying to be good academically as well as acting.”
Variety Heart Scholarship recipient Piper, 17, may be young but she knows exactly what she wants to do for the rest of her days – make people happy with her music. The self-taught singer, guitarist and songwriter from Lake Macquarie, NSW, says music has always been a huge part of her life.
“My mum sings all around the house and I learnt to sing from her. We call Dad ‘Happy Feet’ because he can’t sing but he can dance. Dad also taught me my first chords on the guitar,” she said.
“Since the start of my professional music journey, Variety has always given me not only financial support but also the confidence to believe in myself. The scholarships have helped me to cover the cost of travel for non-local gigs, an amplifier and a new guitar.”
Variety Heart Scholarship recipient Julio, 12, has a passion for the ice.
Discovering not just that he loved ice skating, but that he was good at it was a defining moment for Julio. Now he works hard to take every opportunity to skate he can.
“Thanks to the Scholarship we have an opportunity to do more training including ice sessions, off ice sessions, gym, stretch classes. Now we are trying to organise International training camp in the USA. And step to the new level of Julio’s career.” said proud mum Lara.
What does a snowboarder do during the Australian summer? Well if you’re Variety Heart Scholarship recipient Ocean, 17, you take your board to Colorado.
The year ahead is full, with a long list of goals Ocean is focusing on coming top three placings in his upcoming competitions, train to continue to build his bag of tricks and create films to attract sponsors. Always Ocean is focused on remaining in the Top 10 Australians on the World Snowboard Tour.
Trinity has been incredibly busy since we introduced her to the Variety community back in 2019.
From the Hunter Valley, Trinity grew up singing songs around the campfire but now her music is hitting the airwaves and the future is looking even brighter than those childhood campfires.
In January 2020, Trinity made over 25 appearances at the Tamworth Country Musical Festival including hosting her own shows. She has performed at the musical festival every year since 2017 and also headlined the 2020 Macksville Muster. Add to this a number of impressive supports and performances with, or alongside, artists like Troy Kemp, Matt Scullion and The Wolfe Brothers.
For 4-year-old Zavier, this Christmas was nearly another reminder of all the things he couldn’t do, instead of an opportunity to make the same happy childhood memories as every other kid across Australia.
Born without his left arm and hand, little Zavier needed a special myoelectric arm. He was outgrowing the simpler prosthetics he’d worn when he was younger.
The arm wasn’t covered by the NDIS, and they were rejected time and time again for every grant they applied for.
Zavier’s parents felt hopeless, and had to make the heartbreaking decision to tell Zavier that his special robot arm – and his new future – would need to wait.
But thanks to people like you, donating to Variety, Zavier’s story didn’t end here.