How much of an impact can two sixteen-year-old girls starting their own charity have on an entire community?
I distinctly remember a conversation I had with Maddy, just over 10 years ago when we were planning the launch of Little Dreamers. We were deciding whether to grant Dream Experiences only in Victoria or Australia-wide. You would think that because we were teenagers and lived in Victoria it would be much easier for us to grant Dream Experiences in a familiar environment and build relationships in our local area. But no. From the very beginning we had big ambitions for what Little Dreamers would become. We wanted to offer Dream Experiences to Young Carers all over Australia because…why not? No one was going to get in our way or tell us otherwise.Although we called it Little Dreamers, our dreams for the organisation were anything but small. We wanted celebrities at our launch and there appeared Molly Meldrum and David Campbell. We wanted to be featured on national television and there we were on Channel 10’s morning show: 9am with David & Kim. Yet I don’t think either Maddy or myself could have dreamed of what Little Dreamers would look like now. Every time I see a Facebook post about another Dream Experience that has been granted or another support program that has been launched, I always think back to the very beginning. Little Dreamers began with two teenagers who sat on the floor of Maddy’s bedroom arguing over who was going to make the next phone call as we were both petrified of talking to strangers on the phone. It began with crazy fundraiser ideas like producing an amateur musical (which definitely would have cost more money to organise than we ever could have raised in ticket sales). But it began with two girls who weren’t afraid of hard work and saw the sky as the limit.
The amount of times I was asked, “Why aren’t you raising money for the sick kids?” just shows how little understanding there was of what it’s like to be a Young Carer and how it can affect a child’s life. As a kid, Maddy would come over for last-minute sleepovers when her brother was admitted to hospital. Of course, it was exciting and fun to have a sleepover, but underneath that it means unpredictability and extra responsibility which forces Young Carers to grow up faster. For me it was obvious, as I had watched it all happen to Maddy but I also understood that others may not be aware of the impact that being a Young Carer can have on a child. This was when I realised that another role of Little Dreamers would be to advocate on behalf of the Young Carers and raise awareness both to the general population and the governing bodies.It’s now been 10 years since Little Dreamers was officially launched. I look at Maddy and her team and how far they have come, and I am constantly blown away. Little Dreamers has impacted the lives of over 5,000 Young Carers and has granted over 220 Dream Experiences. They are constantly coming up with new innovations and finding ways to support and advocate for Young Carers and I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will bring!