Christmas lights for RIDBC

Peta with her son, Thomas, who is playing a matching game with coloured blocks to develop his visual skills

Castle Hill residents, Peta and Ben, are again switching on their Christmas lights in support of Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC).

Peta and Ben hold their Christmas lights fundraiser every year. Their son, Thomas, has vision loss and is supported by RIDBC. The lights will be on every night until after Christmas, 8pm - 10pm, 2 Poplar Court Castle Hill.

Thomas was diagnosed with vision loss at five months of age and that is when the family began accessing RIDBC Early Learning Program (Vision Impairment). From the start, Peta and Ben didn’t think Thomas’ vision was working as it should.

“The diagnosis was a relief but we couldn’t help but worry about Thomas’ future. It was easy to get ahead of ourselves, worrying about whether he'd be able to drive a car instead of what he needed then,” said Peta.

“He was such a happy little baby and that gave me strength. When he was asleep I would worry but when he was awake he was happy and engaged, doing amazing things despite his vision loss. That was very comforting to me.”

As a special education teacher in early intervention, Peta knew how critical the early years were. With ongoing support from RIDBC, Thomas is now doing really well. This support has inspired Peta to fundraise for RIDBC.

“My father used to put on a Christmas lights display every year, and when he passed away we decided to continue the tradition in his honour,” said Peta. “When Thomas was born, friends suggested we make the lights a fundraiser for RIDBC.

“Now each year we put on the lights and hold a raffle. We also put a little donation tin on our letter box as so many people come to view the lights. We raise around $1000 every year, and it’s our way of giving back to the organisation that has done so much for our family.

“Another great part of community fundraising is getting the word out– making sure that families know there are services available to help their children and making sure they know where to access those services. Spreading the word and supporting the fantastic work of RIDBC is so important.”

RIDBC Early Learning Program (Vision Impairment) works with families of children with significant vision loss, from birth to five years of age.

RIDBC is Australia’s largest provider of services for children with hearing or vision loss, assisting thousands of children a year across Australia

RIDBC relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in children's lives.  In order to maintain its intensive educational and research programs, the organisation needs to raise approximately $2.5 million every month.