A disco for Ari

In February 2014 a beautiful child named Ari passed away from Mitochondrial Disease. In 23 years as the Director of a childcare centre, I have only faced a child’s death twice, and the enormity of the loss is like an ocean wave. It is an unstoppable, rolling feeling that knocks you down over and over.

Mitochondria are extremely complex little organelles inside a cell and are responsible for creating over 90% of the energy that a body needs sustain life and to grow. Each one requires over 1,400 genes to create. Our genes are like the blueprints of our body, dictating the makeup and way our bodies function.

Mitochondrial disease (‘mito disease’ for short) is due to a fault in one or more of the genes that make up the mitochondria. This means a hiccup will occur in the production of mitochondria from the time of conception. As the foetus grows, some mitochondria can divide and grow as normal while others will divide and grow abnormally.

The ratio of healthy to unhealthy mitochondria can also vary greatly from cell to cell and organ to organ. This is the main reason why it is so difficult to know where, when and how severely mitochondrial disease can strike each person.

By 2015 everyone who knew him were still very emotionally raw, but we wanted to raise awareness and funds to help a cause that was new to most of us. We held a colourful dress-up day at the childcare Centre and collected donations.

A year later we still feel his loss but are a little stronger. We wanted to honour his memory again by holding another fundraising activity and it was decided to hold a disco with each age group encouraged to run small, individual events.

Our centre is co-located with Craigslea State High School and their auditorium is a small walk away. The school graciously allowed us access to hold the disco there.

One of the Centre father’s hobbies is music and he volunteered services for the event. It was held on a Monday afternoon between 4:30 and 5:30pm so all the children would be able to attend.

Children between the ages of two and a half and five years old were looked after by the Centre educators and the younger children were in the care of their parents.

Each room was given the challenge of raising $100 and the room that raised the most won an afternoon off for the Educators as a prize! The Centre employees were very creative with their fundraising and donated their time to organize it all.

There were raffles to win free babysitting, wine or afternoon tea with a teacher, framed photos for sale and scrabble names pictures. We have currently raised over $900 and the amount is still growing.

For most early childhood educators, childcare is more than just a profession. We touch lives daily and make a difference to so many individuals. This cause helped to bring our educators and the families in our care even closer together with the hope of making a difference in the lives of other families dealing with this disease. 

Janine Schokman


Bright Beginnings Child Edu-Care Centre

687 Hamilton Road, Chermside West4032

Posted on March 14, 2016 .