Prisoner leaves Wandoo with a gift for sick kids

Image: The resident with Starlight Foundation volunteer Tina Phan and Wandoo Director Wendy Sinclair.

A resident at Wandoo Reintegration Facility in Western Australia has left the prison with a parting gift for sick kids.

Earlier this year, the 22-year-old man offered to chop off his prized rat's tail dreadlocks if the facility could raise $1000 for the Starlight Children's Foundation. The foundation works with health professionals to brighten the lives of seriously ill children and their families by using positive psychology principles.

Fellow residents and staff answered the call, generously contributing $1250 to the children's charity. The Melville Times spoke to the resident about his charitable act just days before his release.

The resident said his own family was inspiration for him to give back.

"I have a daughter at home and being in here, I can't be around her," he told the outlet.

"I just thought if she got sick or something, this is as close as I could come to helping her out, and to helping other sick kids as well.

"A lot of other prisoners also have kids so when they found out what I was doing, they started asking if they could donate too.

"I went to the guards and they set it up so the rest of the boys could donate as well."

Wandoo's Education, Training, Employment and Recreation Supervisor supported the resident in devising and driving the campaign. The money was raised through pledged cash donations from staff and residents who donated from their weekly spends.

In May the resident cut his locks off in front of his generous supporters at Wandoo. On his last day before release, the resident met with Starlight Foundation volunteer Tina Phan who thanked him for his act of charity.

"Starlight is the only organisation that has a permanent presence in every paediatric hospital in Australia," she said.

"Our aim is to bring joy, fun and laughter into what could be a scary and boring time for kids in hospital.

"The money raised will go towards running our various in-hospital and outreach programs, and wish granting, similar to the Make-A-Wish Foundation."

Wandoo Director Wendy Sinclair praised the resident for his generous act.

"It was an absolute delight to have one of our residents wholly embrace the concept of community payback by both offering the idea but also managing to raise so much money," she said.

"This will make a difference to a child's life – how much more worthwhile can that be? It is both heart-warming and good for people to see that prisoners can be successfully rehabilitated to become contributing members of society."To learn more about the Starlight Children's Foundation, please visit https://starlight.org.au/