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07th Jun 2021

Children’s charity Barretstown reopens for children and families living with serious illness

Trine Jensen-Burke

Barretstown Reopens gates for children and their families living with a serious illness

After fourteen months of temporary closure, children’s charity Barretstown reopen its gates for children and their families living with serious illness.

In March 2020, Barretstown had to make the difficult decision to close its gates temporarily and postpone all residential camp programmes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While this was an extremely challenging decision for the charity to make, the safety of their camper families, staff and volunteers was the top priority.

This weekend Barretstown, the children’s charity in Co. Kildare that offers free, specially designed camps and programmes for children and their families living with a serious illness, reopened their gates and welcomed campers and their families, back to experience their life-changing therapeutic programmes.

Campers will be able to enjoy a host of activities including arts & crafts, drama, Lego, adventure games, mini-golf, canoeing, fishing, biking and moviemaking. The number of campers and their families visiting weekly will initially be limited in line with government health and safety guidelines. All families visiting camp will undergo Covid-19 testing on arrival, in addition to two days prior to arrival.

“We’re incredibly excited to reopen our gates and welcome families back to our camp in County Kildare this summer,” says Dee Ahearn, CEO of Barretstown about the reopening.

“Each weekend, we will be inviting families to return to camp and enjoy the same magical experiences we have been providing campers for over 25 years. Our mission is to rebuild the lives of children, and their families, affected by serious illness in a safe, fun and supportive environment, through our life-changing therapeutic camps and programmes. We are committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all of our campers and their families as well as our staff and volunteers. Childhood stops for children living with serious illness. At Barretstown, we Press Play on childhood.”

“Barretstown’s therapeutic recreation model empowers and encourages campers to step out of their comfort zone and begin to rebuild their confidence and discover something new about themselves, says Barretstown’s Medical Director, Dr Peter McCarthy.

“Hospitals treat the illness, while Barretstown treats the child. The Covid-19 crisis has meant that children with a serious illness, like those who come to Barretstown, who are immunocompromised, are even more isolated. They have needed Barretstown’s therapeutic programmes more than ever, I am delighted that the gates of the camp in Kildare are now open again to those who need it most.”

Due to the Covid-19 crisis, the charity has had to cancel or postpone many of its key fundraising initiatives. These events provide crucial income for Barretstown which relies on the public to provide 97% of the funds that make their work possible. As a result, in 2020 the charity suffered an income shortfall of €1,000,000.

Barretstown has, however, continued to provide their life-changing programmes and services through their innovative, new ‘Barretstown Live’ virtual camps, allowing them to continue to serve over 6,900 children and their families, during a time when they were more isolated than ever before.

Members of the public can support Barretstown by visiting: