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Olivia’s Story

Nine-year-old Olivia has multiple, severe complex allergies to nuts, wheat, eggs, milk, dust mites and pollen as well as eczema and asthma.

A photo of Olivia in a field wearing a pink bobble hat

For Olivia, her allergies are so severe that reactions occur even if she hasn’t consumed the items herself.

For example at a restaurant, if Olivia comes into contact with a table which hasn’t been thoroughly wiped down and there are remnants of one her allergens, she will come out in hives and welts which will gradually get worse and worse.

To ensure her safety, the family have to eat at different times.

Sadly, Olivia’s health condition has caused many limitations in her childhood.

“Unfortunately, children tend to be less affectionate towards Olivia due to the stigma attached to her condition” says Olivia’s mum, Emily.

“There is a threat associated with Olivia’s allergies, so children often have the tendency to detach themselves, and previously this meant Olivia really struggled at school.

Olivia used to feel isolated and lonely, but everything changed when Emily watched BBC Children in Need one year.

“I heard all about a very special project they support called Over The Wall which runs residential, therapeutic camps especially for children with allergies.”

Emily couldn’t wait to find out more, but had reservations about Olivia going by herself as she had never been able to go on a sleepover with a friend before, so a residential trip was a huge step.

“I spoke to Over The Wall and they explained that if I had concerns, or if Olivia was nervous, I could apply for family camp so we could experience it as a family and see how the camp operates – so we all went!”

“As we arrived all the families were apprehensive – but by the first meal time, everyone was relaxed and laughing and the children were having an absolute ball. Family camp was quite simply life changing; I cannot really put into words how much of a difference it made to Olivia’s life.”

“One of the absolute highlights from family camp was Olivia forming a magical friendship with another camper, Elsy who also has complex life-threatening allergies. They have formed a friendship for life. It literally brings us to tears when they are together.

Family camp gave Olivia the confidence to attend Over The Wall’s allergy camp by herself, which was the first time she had ever been on an overnight trip away from her family.

“Without a doubt camp is the best thing that has ever happened to Olivia” adds Emily.

“It made her understand that she is amazing and special, and that there is more to her than her allergies. For Olivia, the joy of camp wasn’t just climbing walls or going on zip wires– the joy was simply being with everyone, making friends, sharing food, enjoying the social aspect of eating and sharing a dorm with other children – simple things that children normally get to enjoy, but sadly Olivia hadn’t been able to before.”

“Before camp, she was struggling with school – her confidence was low and she needed a pep talk nearly every morning before we left. She was really struggling with the whole social aspect of it.”

“After camp I could see the most amazing difference in her.”

“She finally had confidence and was no longer afraid of new things. I can tell her how amazing she is all day – but when your mum tells you, it’s different. Getting support and encouragement from other children and the Over The Wall team was what changed everything for Olivia.”

Emily continues, “Olivia started a new school late last year, and is doing so well there, she is making friends and having fun like any child should, and I put that down to Over The Wall.  I will never be able to thank them enough for everything they have done for us.”

BBC Children in Need fund Over The Wall £29,816 over three-year to fund the part-time salary of the Clinical Co-ordinator, accommodation, activities, meals and medical support costs  for the weekend residential for children with allergies.  Olivia is very excited to attend her next camp in October!
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