University student and Volunteers United Student Coordinator, Vivienne, knows first-hand the comfort a small cuddly toy can bring in unfamiliar settings and situations. Growing up with autism, her stuffed toy dog ‘Scruffy’ joined her on all of life’s big adventures from drives to school and flights to new destinations.
It’s Vivenne’s little sidekick in life that sparked her idea to rollout a special project with the University of New South Wales’ student-led organisation, Arc – UNSW Student Life, in support of Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation (SCHF) called Cuddle Buddies.
(Image: Vivienne pictured first row, left holding blank Vuddle Buddies with fellow volunteers).
For several months, Arc has been working closely with SCHF and the Child Life and Music Therapy team at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick (SCH) to invite patients and their families to design their very own Cuddle Buddy.
(Image: two cuddle buddies next to their design briefs. The left one is rainbow and the right is white, with an initial "M" for Myka in the centre).
Based off a template, Arc students have volunteered their time to bring the design to life by hand-sewing a plush toy and colouring in its features from the templates given to patients. In a matter of days, 24 volunteers rallied together and sewed 32 cuddle buddies that are now on their way to their owners. It was a great team building activity for the students as about 50 other students helped when it came to painting the designs.
Unstoppable changemaker Vivienne says, “My favourite part of the project has been seeing the kids’ designs. Some have stitches and bandages whilst others have caps. It really has been an honour for me and the volunteers to help make a difference to the lives of sick kids in hospital.”
By nature, I am not too good with sudden changes. That’s why I’m so inspired by the bravery of kids in unfamiliar environments like hospitals every day”
Working alongside Vivenne to help facilitate the project, Philanthropy Student coordinator Elyse from Arc says, "It was so amazing to see the creativity of patients despite being unwell and so surreal for watch our volunteers including Viv execute their brief."
Since 2016, Arc has been a proud member of SCHF’s Movement of Many, raising over $480,000 to help support sick kids and their families. On Wednesday 18 October 2023, their annual 24-hour fundraiser FUN-A-THON will return, in an effort to raise even more funds for this wonderful cause.
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To learn more about the different ways you can give or get involved with the Foundation and join our Movement of Many, click here.