Take to the sky for a joy flight
FLIGHTS of courage, flights for inspiration and flights for families to enjoy together will all be taking to the skies later this month in an effort to support children who need it as part of Emerald's first National FunFlight Day.
On Sunday, October 28, the nation-wide event will give 200 people from Emerald the chance to take a 15-30 minute flight over their region, lifting spirits and hopes along the way.
Raelene Ensby, founder of the Umbrella Network, which is coordinating this year's charity day, said volunteer pilots and organisers aimed to give any child and their family touched by adversity the chance to fly for free.
The event, which celebrated its 10th anniversary and 10,000th passenger last year, has been holding FunFlights in Rockhampton for the past eight years and aims to bring communities together in support of children with special needs or who were facing various difficulties.
Ms Ensby said the day was all about showing solidarity and offering connections and companionships for the children, their siblings and extended families.
"This is really exciting for Emerald. And the best part is seeing the smiles on everybody's faces,” she said.
"It's all about supporting each other and building networks.
"And it's important for families to get support from each other and from somebody who 'gets it'.”
Ms Ensby, who in 2016 was presented with an Australia Day Award for her community involvement, said it was also crucial to include siblings as they could often feel sidelined when a family was working hard to help a particular child.
"I don't think we realise at the time that the siblings are going through stuff too, and they're as worried as anybody else.
"This is an event the whole family can attend. It's just about having a fun day. People can stay for half an hour or five hours.”
Ms Ensby has two boys, nine-year-old Tyler and Caleb, 11, with Tyler needing support for autism, anxiety and breathing issues.
"I think one of the biggest things is that families need to ask for help. Ask if you don't understand something or you're not happy so you can get the best for your child.
"And if you are told no, ask why not. Ask them, 'If you can't help, who can?' If you stop asking those questions and believing that you have the right to open another door, then eventually some people get told no so many times, they believe it.
"We need to advocate for individual cases and we need to advocate for each other and with each other.”
Ms Ensby said the general community could be involved by offering to help a person or family, even in seemingly small ways.
"It can often be the littlest simplest things that can make a huge difference. If everybody can accept and respect each other, we can move on.” To register, visit eventbrite.com.au /e/national-funflight-day-emerald-qld-tickets-47839735938