In the countdown to Christmas, the Bega Valley Fortem office was converted into a makeshift film studio, giving four excited first responder families the chance to experience first-hand just how glamourous it is to spend a day on set.
Fortem’s work with first responder families puts every family member’s experience at the forefront of first responder wellbeing. The aim of this 2-day shoot was to create a series of videos capturing the unique perspective of emergency services kids, or “ESKies” as they have been coined by Fortem’s first child Ambassador, Piper Johnson. Ten children and teens from Police, SES, RFS and Ambulance families were invited to share their insights and experiences of life in a first responder family.
It didn’t take long for each child to feel at ease in the spotlight. Seasoned Bega Valley filmmaker Honey Atkinson was behind the lens, expertly navigating enthusiastic tales about peanut butter sandwiches and Paw Patrol to tease out stories other first responder families will certainly relate to. The older children who had previewed the interview questions provided heartfelt and thoughtful answers that complemented the spontaneous but insightful responses from the younger kids who were hearing the questions for the first time.
While not a typical Fortem wellbeing activity, starring in a video series certainly ticked the box as an awesome opportunity for family connection and a unique way for these kids to express immense pride, love and appreciation for their first responder parents. Their parents and siblings also seemed quite content to sneak a peek into the studio while enjoying the catering in the adjoining “green room”.
A big thank you goes out to these four generous families, from the entire Fortem team. Their time in the studio will help build resilience and mental fitness within their own family unit, and their insights will help so many other first responder kids and families to feel heard, acknowledged, and supported.