Auckland Airport is giving $120,000 to 12 charities as part of its annual 12 days of Christmas. The Herald is profiling each initiative.

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Brothers and sisters of disabled children often do it tough - they may feel they have less attention or are bullied at school. But a programme run by Parent to Parent which supports families of disabled or special needs youngsters is aimed at supporting those siblings and offering mentoring to them. Since July, three SibCamps have been run throughout New Zealand and a $10,000 grant from Auckland Airport will go towards another camp being run by the Auckland branch at Piha next March. The camps are held over a weekend and cater for about 30 children aged 8 to 18. Each camp costs between $12,000 and $15,000. Parent to Parent business development manager Sue Pairaudeau said there was a huge demand for the camps but funds meant the Auckland branch could run one only every two years. "There are a lot of services for people with disabilities but we focus on the family around that person." At the camps there were workshops which allowed the children to talk about what it was like to live in a home with a child with a disability, Pairaudeau said. "No parents are allowed at these workshops because some of the things that the kids say might be a little sensitive. They might be feeling left out, they might be being bullied at school," she said. "They might even be defending their brother or sister from being bullied. These camps acknowledge the extra effort that their different home life demands of them. And often it champions them because often they are their disabled sibling's biggest hero and fan." At the camp the siblings also participate in fun activities such as abseiling and kayaking and often the venues change. Pairaudeau said the relationship between them and their sibling was vital for both a happy family and because often they would outlive their parents, meaning they might be required to take over the care and support. During the camps the children often made lifelong friends and formed their own support network. "You get a lot of kids who haven't met each other before, but they've all got a sibling with a disability and like all kids I suppose the first night they are a little bit awkward but they really do bond." Pairaudeau said the facilitators who ran the camps also had disabled siblings so had first-hand experience about what it was like, and some had been campers when the camps first started in 1992. It was also common for children to go on to become camp leaders because many ended up working in the health and disability sector. Along with the camps, Parent to Parent also runs SibShops and SibDays, which are more social events or outings. Auckland Airport general manager of safety and people Anna Cassels-Brown said Parent to Parent was chosen because of the work it did with connecting families and creating opportunities for people right across the community.