Aspire Academy Trust
Posted on: 03/05/2021

Nicki's Boxes

Nicki Oxenham, a much loved and respected teacher and SENDCo at Shortlanesend School was diagnosed with cancer in December 2018 and sadly died on 26th December 2019, leaving a huge hole in the lives of so many of us.

When Nicki was first diagnosed, her first thought was for the children in her class and how best to explain the situation. She discovered there were very few resources—and those available were difficult to source and co-ordinate.

Nicki’s Big Idea

Nicki set up a task force to research and ultimately produce a box of practical and purposeful resources to help children understand what cancer is, and how it may affect the people they care for and love, and love and care for those in return.

With support from Cornish bereavement charity, Penhaligon’s Friends, Macmillan Cancer Support and the Fruit Fly Collective, she aimed to issue boxes throughout Cornish schools.

Nicki’s Book

Included in the box would also be a copy of Nicki’s book—which she wrote in conjunction with her class during her illness, entitled—What is this word Cancer?

Status of the project

In March 2020 the task force had successfully organised a wish list of resources and were finalising the contents of the box plus a date for a Trust-wide fundraising day. All the momentum was positive and then… COVID-19.  Now the task force, which includes Nicki’s husband Andrew, wishes to complete the project that Nicki started and will be asking for Aspire academies’ support to raise (and maintain) the finances needed to fulfil Nicki’s wishes.

What is the goal?

The goal is initially for each Aspire academy to have one box each and hopefully one box per Cornwall MAT, plus annual, or possibly every other year, funding activities (school/local communities) to ensure the programme flourishes and grows year-on-year.  To complement the materials, externally provided training sessions will ensure staff feel confident and properly equipped to talk about cancer with children.

Nicki’s enduring legacy will be age-appropriate, sensitive and meaningful support for Cornish school children dealing with their understanding of cancer and the effects it has emotionally and physically on the people around them.

Next steps?

Work is currently underway to finalise a logo and name for this incredible project and dates are being looked at later in the summer term to potentially kickstart some fundraising activities in Aspire academies to get the project off the ground.  There will be a centralised funding platform set up and we will of course keep all schools, and their communities, posted with further details.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or want to get involved, then please contact Chad Wilson at Shortlanesend School.

Written by Aspire
Written by Aspire