Elaine Leong, as you will read, is a long term supporter of the Foundation. She provides us with a different insight into her connection with the Foundation since becoming a mother this year.
I am a long term supporter of the Touched by Olivia Foundation and am secretly pleased (okay maybe not so secretly) that it all started once upon a time in the living room of my cosy Burwood apartment where Justine, Phil and I scribbled on colourful post-it notes, stuck them up on a wall and kept shuffling them from one column to another.
Since that time I've had the privilege to assume several roles for the Foundation - fundraising committee member, lawyer, grant writer, entertainment manager, volunteer coordinator, philanthropic supporter, balloon twister, donor, ball guest, writer, composer.
In all honesty, this year I've probably contributed the least to the Foundation but ironically, of all years, this year I've felt closer to the Foundation than ever before.
This year I took on a new role in life.
This year I became a mother.
On 3 January 2013, I gave birth to my son. Weighing 3.85kg and measuring 52cm I was immensely proud and immediately protective. I had spent the last 9 months patiently waiting to meet him and now that he had arrived I couldn't wait to show him what the world had to offer (of course all the while I would be holding his hand).
As Lucas's 7 month birthday approached I thought more and more about Olivia and what it means to lose a child. As a mother now, I can't even begin to imagine... and that may be why of all the years of my involvement, though this year I've contributed the least, this year I've felt the strongest connection to the foundation.
Like most parents, I have certain hopes for my son. I hope he is compassionate toward others. I hope he grows up to contribute positively to society. I hope he finds his passion and direction. I hope he will always be surrounded by people who love him, that when he is a little older he will still have a place in his heart for his mother who will probably be sporting white hair and require some teeth surgery by then. But above all, I hope he is happy, healthy and plays fair. I hope he will be the type of kid who might eye a lonely kid across the playground and casually ask him to join in on a game of ball and not make a big deal out of it.
It's no coincidence that the behaviour most parents would like to see in their children may be found in the wonderful set of principles on inclusive playspaces spearheaded by the Touched by Olivia Foundation. This set of principles was thoughtfully conceived as a result of a workshop participated by Australia's leading play experts.
On a more personal level, the picture of children playing side by side regardless of ability, is one that touches my heart, as I am sure does with many parents, and I look forward to visiting with my son Livvi's Place in Drummoyne and all other playgrounds in the National Network of Livvi's Place inclusive playspaces.
I look at my son now and I'm so thankful he's healthy and happy. I feel so fortunate to have seen him grow into a strong little boy in his first year and to have witnessed all his firsts - his first smile, giggle, half rollover, full rollover, sit up, crawl, stand up, tentative first steps.
And when he is old enough to understand I will tell him the story of a little girl named Olivia and how her life has changed so many lives for the better. I hope that when he hears her story, he too will be touched by Olivia and will continue to help sprinkle Olivia's fairy dust to all corners of the world.