A philosophy of letting children enjoy adventures and manage their own risks has drawn Thai cave rescue doctor Richard Harris to the Ballarat-based KIDS Foundation.
The Adelaide-based anaesthetist has agreed to become an ambassador for the foundation as it celebrates is 25th anniversary this week.
Dr Harris, who masterminded the successful cave dive rescue of 12 young Thai soccer players and their coach from the cave system in July, was inundated with requests to support causes and organisations after the high-profile rescue but a letter from KIDS Foundation founder Susie O’Neill caught his attention.
“I must say of all the requests after the rescue, the KIDS Foundation has piqued my interest more than any other. I work regularly with kids in my fields of anaesthesia and prehospital and retrieval medicine, and I am acutely aware of the impact of traumatic injuries in children,” Dr Harris wrote to Ms O’Neill.
“The important work you are doing in injury prevention, treatment and rehab impresses me. As an adventurer, I don’t like to see today’s kids wrapped in cotton wool and I believe that kids must be allowed to safely explore the natural world. But the results can be dreadful and I applaud what you are doing to help when things go wrong.”
“I’m proud to be an ambassador for the KIDS Foundation and look forward to working with the team in the coming years to promote your work.”
KIDS Foundation teaches safety awareness and supports children and adults living with serious injuries and burns.
“When I saw the rescue I thought this is what KIDS is. We look at kids who have been in traumatic situations and try to bring them back to a life where they have hope and belief that they are valued,” Ms O’Neill said.
“And the other part of our work is educating children that in any situation everyone has different capabilities and just because someone else can do something it doesn’t mean you can’t. What have you got to help you contribute in that situation.”
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The KIDS Foundation celebrates its 25th anniversary on September 1, the day after the end of a 550km fundraising ride.
Dr Harris joins former Carlton footballer Anthony Koutoufides, The Voice contestant Sally Skelton, Olympians Steve Moneghetti and Susie O’Neill, Geelong AFL coach Chis Scott, former AFL player and burns survivor Jason McCartney, former world champion triathlete Craig Alexander and entertainer Denise Drysdale as ambassadors for the organisation.
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