Camp Quality puppet show explains cancer

Camp Quality's puppet show is set to tour Illawarra schools to help dispel common myths about cancer and stamp out bullying.

The charity's primary school education manager, Chandra Franken, said kids with cancer were often bullied and isolated by their classmates when they returned to school.

She encouraged schools, particularly those with students undergoing cancer treatment, to sign up for the free puppet shows, which have been running for 25 years.

"Cancer treatment can make children look very different from their peers - they not only lose their hair, they can gain or lose weight and their skin colour can be a lot paler," Ms Franken said.

"They've often spent months or even a year away from school and in that time they have been in hospital or attended camps with other children who understand what they are going through.

"Going back to school and getting teased and called names like 'baldy' by classmates who don't understand what they have been through can be devastating," Ms Franken said.

A lot of the bullying was caused by ignorance.

"While some children have heard of cancer, they don't really know what it means and many think that they can catch it, so they exclude or isolate the child who has returned to school after treatment," she said.

Camp Quality's puppet show has been seen by more than 4 million primary school students, with 230,000 students watching a performance in the past year.

Ms Franken said the charity employed a team of talented puppeteers to teach children how to be supportive and understanding of those living with cancer.

"They can explain cancer in a way that is relatable, safe and non-threatening," she said.

"Usually, once the puppet show is performed at a school, the bullying of kids with cancer stops completely."

Ms Franken said the puppet show would tour the region's schools in the next school term and schools could book a performance on 1300 662 267.

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