When a young boy began to suffer a serious illness, the missed schooling took away more than his knowledge. But with the help of the Ronald McDonald Learning Program he has his giggle back.

Young Tasmanian Josh was only three when he was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. In the first four years of treatment Josh had over 200 medical appointments, including over 55 hospital admissions, causing him to miss more than 150 days of school.

“It affected his confidence quite severely,” says mum Cindy. “He became anxious about school and even had regular nightmares about it.”

“It was often difficult to get him to go to school and he appeared to be feeling quite worthless about himself. When we asked him to read with us he would often say he was no good.”

Then along came the Ronald McDonald Learning Program, a service that pays teachers to run individualised programs for children recovering from treatment for major medical issues. Typically the students’ confidence levels are low and they often fear returning to class.

“The Learning Program has made huge improvements to our family life.”

“We found out about the Learning Program through the school psychologist and it has been absolutely fantastic.” Cindy says. “Josh’s original tutor, Lisette was wonderful and Josh thought the world of her. He saw their weekly meetings as fun, not as learning and he never realised how much it had helped him. His confidence began to come back which was visible simply in his attitude towards life.”

After 18 months Josh moved on to another teacher, Judy. Lisette and I worked together to have Josh transferred to a new school which, once again, has worked wonders for his knowledge and attitude.

“The tutors allow Josh to make decisions about what he’ll work on during each session.” Cindy says. “That’s really important, as kids with chronic illnesses don’t often feel in control of anything.”

Even now at the age of nine he only makes it to school three to four days a week, but Cindy says, “The Learning Program has made huge improvements even to our family life. Josh has always had a wicked sense of humour, but when he lost his confidence, he lost his humour. Now it’s coming back and when he’s being funny, he really lights the house up!”

The Ronald McDonald Learning Program is actively seeking more teachers across Australia to help tutor kids recovering from serious illness. Having helped more than 6000 children since 1998, the Learning Program currently supports over 900 students nationally, from Kindergarten to Year 12. It provides tuition with an experienced teacher as well as speech and occupational therapy if required.

For teachers looking to get involved please contact us:

Call toll free on 1300 307 642


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