Yesterday at the iconic Luna Park in St Kilda, 218 kids with neurological conditions from tumours to acquired brain injuries, along with their families attended a free Christmas Party – complete with gifts from Santa, creative balloon artists, amazing face painters, live music, carnival rides and elves on stilts – all courtesy of Brainwave Australia and three generous sponsors; Luna Park, Pro Toys and Ferrero.

QBE and Mercedes-Benz volunteers also assisted Santa on the day to hand out the gifts that were kindly donated by Pro Toys and Ferrero. Two hours of free entertainment, care of Luna Park, along with soft drinks, ice-creams and freshly baked muffins were also offered to the families. Brainwave Chairman David Blackley says the event is powered by enthusiastic corporate and community volunteers, “Our volunteers show Brainwave families amazing support by helping us run a packed calendar of free, fun events year-round”.

Amongst the families enjoying the festivities was four-year-old Geelong resident Destiny Chalmers, her mum Marika Fitzpatrick, dad Wayne Chalmers, and six siblings aged six to 20. Destiny was born with Down Syndrome, had a stroke at birth, and later developed major heart problems, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. She can’t walk or talk, eats via a feeding tube and is wheelchair bound. For Destiny and her family simple pleasures like family camping trips are an impossibility. Her illness has necessitated a move closer to hospital, constant care, and limited outings. For them Brainwave events offer a welcome break from doctors and hospitals and some much needed down time for each member of the family.

Marika Fitzpatrick was especially grateful for the experience that Brainwave brought to her family, stating that “we have six children and we could never have the opportunity to enjoy an experience such as this.”

Brainwave is Australia’s only charity focussed on reducing the impact of paediatric neurological conditions on children and their families by offering practical assistance and emotional support to help improve their quality of life.

Brainwave’s annual Melbourne Christmas Party was a highly anticipated stress reliever for around 86 Victorian families: a much needed break from their daily challenges and a chance to enjoy some old fashioned fun while connecting with others who understand their struggles.

Child psychologist Sandy Rea says days out like the Brainwave Christmas Party provide tangible psychological benefits to children affected by disability and long term illness. “Many of these children endure physical difficulties, ongoing pain and time spent away from school or friends on a daily basis, which can leave them feeling very isolated,” she said.