Nursing student’s passion for people an asset as Commonwealth Games volunteer
Unlike most of her fellow nursing students Kareena Barraclough knows exactly what she was doing on November 11 in 2011; she was jumping for joy at the Broadwater Parklands because the Gold Coast had just been awarded the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Her enthusiasm for the prestigious sporting event is infectious, and if she had her way she would have signed up as a volunteer back in 2011. But alas she had to wait more than six years before her dream would become a reality.xed to be a part of the event. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m excited that I got to be a part of Gold Coast history,” she says.
The 26-year-old Southern Cross University student worked as a volunteer with the venue transport team during the Games. Part of her job was to ensure that the athletes, media and team officials arrived and departed venues safely and without incident.
With a bubbly and genuinely friendly personality, it’s not surprising Kareena was chosen to be one of the first people to meet official visitors to the Gold Coast. She has welcomed officials, athletes and their families from the Cayman Islands, Truks and Caicos Islands and Australia.
She never knew in advance who was arriving, but she says those travellers she did meet arrived a little wary and tired after long travel times.
Kareena says all the athletes she’s spoken with were pleased to be put on buses to the Games village. She’s also helped families make their way to the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort; the five-star beachfront resort in Main Beach where Prince Charles and wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, called home during the games.
“My job was to make sure everyone got to the right place, while welcoming and wishing them all the best for their event. It’s great because all the visitors were pretty excited to be here,” says Kareena.
“Just before the Games got underway I met someone from the New Zealand weightlifting team, and it was funny because I asked them if they need help carrying their heavy luggage and he laughed and said ‘nah it’s all good’.”
Juggling university and two jobs, Kareena is no stranger to hard work or volunteering. She has spent time overseas, including a trip to Vietnam where she helped out at orphanages. She says while the experience was emotionally draining, it was also very humbling and an eye opener.
While just being part of the Commonwealth Games experience is enough for someone as altruistic as Kareena, she says volunteers are also given a little present after each shift; they also get to keep their ‘lovely’ uniform. But the biggest coup was getting to watch the rehearsal for the spectacular opening ceremony.
As for what’s on the cards for Kareena now that the Games are over, well it’s certainly not a break. She’s heading straight into her nursing placement at the 2018 Kidney Kids Camp at the Sports Super Centre in Runaway Bay.
The annual camp provides children and young adults living with chronic kidney disease an opportunity to build connections and confidence, creating valuable relationships and memories. It also provides respite for parents, and offers siblings a better understanding of chronic kidney disease.
“Each year there is a theme for the camp and this year it’s the Commonwealth Games which is pretty apt. I’m in team New Zealand which is fun as I know lots of lovely people from there,” she says.