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Student leads volunteer effort at Ronald McDonald House

Wednesday 21 September 2022 2:07pm

chphysiomainStudent volunteers (from left): Sam Smith, Maggie McInnes, Benedict Yanzick, Lauren Pickett, Emma Burggraaf, Russell Green, Shannon Roydhouse and Beverly Thompson.

A placement on a paediatric ward inspired an Otago Physiotherapy student to lead a volunteer effort at Ronald McDonald House.

Fourth year student Lily Montgomery worked closely with the families of paediatric patients at Christchurch Hospital and witnessed the stress they were under.

“The families go through so much and the last thing they want to worry about is figuring out what’s for dinner,” she says.

Lily wanted to make a practical difference so organised a team of fellow Year 4 Physiotherapy students as kitchen volunteers.

The nine-strong group took their cooking skills to go into Ronald McDonald House, the ‘home-away-from-home’ for families who travel to Christchurch for their child’s medical treatment, where they prepared hot evening meals for children and their whānau.

“I like that by volunteering at RMDH you can directly give back to the families. We got a chance to meet some of the families and saw first-hand how much of an impact just a couple of hours of our time can make.

“It was such a rewarding experience and it was fun to do the cooking alongside my peers. A highlight was serving the children and their families, and seeing how grateful they were.”

The group will continue to volunteer in the coming months, splitting into smaller groups and cooking over multiple nights.

School of Physiotherapy Clinical Co-ordinator Heather Patterson says the volunteering “showcases the students’ community involvement and professional empathy for families under stress.”

“I was immensely proud of these students for this undertaking.”