By Your Side Bears carry family voice of support

Robert DoughertyNorth West Telegraph

Nothing helps healing like a warm cuddle and the soothing voice of a distant family member, according to a new campaign for ill children.

The By Your Side Bear program is part of a new Ronald McDonald House Charities campaign to keep families in the Pilbara connected with sick family members in hospital.

Teddy bears are given to hospitalised kids, carrying 30-second voice messages between separated family members, including messages from distant grandparents, parents, siblings or pets, activated by a cuddle.

RMHC chief executive Barbara Ryan said about 1108 families had stayed at Australian Ronald McDonald House Perth in the past year, totalling 13,196 nights of accommodation.

“Unfortunately for families staying at Ronald McDonald House Perth, being far from home is a reality,” she said. “As we look to 2018, we hope to be able to keep even more members of the family together and we can only achieve that with the help of donations — every cent makes a difference for our houses.”

Twelve per cent of RMHC guests in the past year have travelled from the Pilbara, using the houses as a home away from home for ill children being treated at nearby hospitals, while about 64 per cent of families in the Pilbara have been affected by serious illness.

Earlier this week, WA’s Montana Ytting, 6, was given her own By Your Side Bear after spending more than 400 nights at Ronald McDonald House Perth with a diagnosed neuroblastoma since November, 2013.

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