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Claire Wilson: Radio Lollipop

Claire Wilson, our 2022 Youth Volunteer of the Year, who brings joy to children in the hospital through Radio Lollipop. Learn about her impact and what motivates her to make a difference in the lives of others.

Meet Claire, a remarkable young woman who volunteers with Radio Lollipop to improve the lives of children in the hospital. She has interacted with over 500 children, and is an integral member of the leadership team, training volunteers and managing her own team. Despite working full-time as a paralegal and studying law, she still finds time to give up her Tuesday and Friday nights to volunteer. Claire is an inspiration, showing that anyone can make a difference with kindness and dedication.

We asked Claire to tell us about her experience volunteering, what Radio Lollipop is all about and why people should volunteer.

VGC: Tell us a little bit about what you do at Radio Lollipop and with volunteering:

Claire: Hi! My name is Claire, or as the patients at the Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH) know me as, Claire bear. I am a Radio Lollipop volunteer who works with the team on the Gold Coast to provide care, comfort and play to the patients at GCUH.  At Radio Lollipop, we give kids a voice and a choice while in the hospital by providing a play and radio service to distract them from the hospital environment. We have a studio where we host live radio shows every weeknight and Saturday mornings where the patients can request their favourite songs, enter our competitions, and be interviewed by the Radio Lollipop host. Adjoining our studio is our playroom where patients and volunteers get creative, verse each other in legendary games of Jenga and explore our seemingly endless games cupboard. Out on the wards, our fan favourite LolliTrolli (pictured) captivates audiences with the many lights, sounds, bubbles and games that it has to offer. Every night we have a different theme to engage with the patients and ensure that our service is catered to kids of all ages. Essentially, we have the privilege of having a whole lot of fun with some incredible and inspiring young people.

Why was it important for you to get involved?

On a personal level, it was important for me to get involved as I spent a little bit of time in the hospital as a child and the impact that Radio Lollipop had on me and my family was profound. I also love all things creative: music, dancing, drama, arts, and crafts, and being a Radio Lollipop volunteer provides me with a unique opportunity to tap into my creative side. Being able to connect with patients and reconnect with the magic of childhood is a beautiful experience for all volunteers. We are able to take some time out of our own lives and bring smiles and laughter to the patients who need it most. I think that giving back to the community, in any way we can, is such an important aspect of life.

In what ways has volunteering at Radio Lollipop helped you develop new skills or improve existing ones?

Radio Lollipop has allowed me to develop my confidence and teamwork skills further. Every room that we enter poses a different set of circumstances that we must adapt to and improvise with each other to provide the highest quality, personalised service to every patient. We always work in teams and play to everyone’s strengths to ensure that we are bringing our ‘A game’ every shift. I have also been involved in the leadership team which has allowed me to work with the best group of like-minded individuals to improve upon the great service we provide. I am also humbled weekly by our Radio Lollipop Superstars beating me in almost every single game we have to offer, so I think I still need to continue working on my gaming skills.

Can you share a specific moment or experience during your volunteering at Radio Lollipop that has left a lasting impact on you?

I honestly do not know how to pick just one specific moment that has left a lasting impact on me as I am lucky enough to have many moments like this weekly. Every night I hear nurses, parents and guardians tell us that this is the first time the patient has laughed or smiled since being admitted and that they seem more like their usual selves. We have kids tell us that they have had so much fun and are counting down the hours until our return. If I had to elaborate on just one experience then it would have to be, we were in a Radio Lollipop superstar’s room who was extremely quiet and reserved.

He was very young and didn’t seem keen to play until he saw our basket of goodies! He immediately sat up, and we played with our jumping frogs. He was laughing and smiling and joining in on all the silliness. His nurse popped her head in because she could not believe he was sitting up as he had been in so much pain and relying on oxygen that day. She snuck in and turned off his oxygen while he wasn’t looking. She observed for a few minutes and then said this was the first time he had been distracted, not asking for pain meds and not on oxygen. Thanks to some bubbles and jumping frogs, our Radio Lollipop Superstar was almost back to his normal happy self. It was beautiful to see and to be a part of. The nurse thanked us, and the dad took lots of happy snaps to send to Mum, who was at home. Thanks to Radio Lollipop, I have the privilege of being part of special moments like this every week.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in volunteering but is unsure of where to start or how to get involved?

My advice for someone who is interested in volunteering would be to take a leap of faith and get involved, volunteering with Radio Lollipop is the highlight of my week and such a fulfilling part of my life. To find a volunteering opportunity that suits you, I would jump onto the Volunteering Gold Coast website and social media pages. The advice I would give to someone who is interested in volunteering with us at Radio Lollipop but is a little unsure would be to jump on to our social media, @radiolollipopau to get a better idea of what we do and the impact that we have on the lives of young people. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, we are always excited to have new faces join the team. You can send us a message via our social media platforms or email volunteersgc@radiolollipop.org. If you want to get involved but don’t quite have the time to commit to our weekly ward shifts, then we would be more than happy to discuss how you can assist at fundraising events or through sponsorship.

 

Don’t hesitate to contact Volunteering Gold Coast to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how you can get involved in charity groups like Radio Lollipop. 

To view current volunteer opportunities at Radio Lollipop contact volunteersgc@radiolollipop.org. or head to their Facebook page or their Instagram page to stay up to date.

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