Helping kids a sweet feeling
Reporter Rose Cawley shares her story of going without sugar for FabFeb, and meets a young man who inspires her to raise funds for charity.
I’d like you to open your wallet and hand over your cash.
You’ll be helping Kiwi kids who are living with hearing problems, autism or special needs.
I’ve spent the entire month of February without sugar – and to be honest I have been ‘hangry’ for far too long now.
It was all part of FabFeb, which encourages people to give up sugar and raise funds for a charity.
Not one morsel of sweetness from the banned foods list passed my lips last month.
I stayed true to the cause no matter how good the cupcakes at the office morning tea looked or how bizarre the cravings got – the low point of which was my ‘I could drain an entire bath full of custard’ moment.
But for 28 days I endured the absence of my beloved soft drinks, fruit juice and chocolate.
And all the sugary things I didn’t even realise I loved like sauces, fruity yoghurt, muesli and, apparently, custard.
It was an eye-opening and educational ride for me.
But the good cause behind it didn’t really sink in until I met Dylan Hamilton-Ralph and his mother Anita.
Dylan was diagnosed with progressive hearing when he was almost 4.
The energetic 6-year-old tells me his favourite thing to do since being fitted with his cochlear implant is to listen to himself ‘‘blowing giant bubbles underwater’’.
I can’t say it is a sound I’ve ever thought much of but then Dylan has a special appreciation for noise.
He relishes the sounds most people take for granted – the beeping coming from the lights at the pedestrian crossing, cars on the road, the birds outside and his mother’s voice.
Anita says learning that Dylan was profoundly deaf in one ear and that it was only going to get worse was tough for the family.
‘‘We put him in the corner so many times for not listening,’’ she says, full of regret. ‘‘We just didn’t know.’’ Then on a hot summer’s day he had a collision on a waterslide and suddenly there was nothing but silence for Dylan.
He started school ‘‘deaf as a doorknob’’ his mother says.
‘‘He wouldn’t hear people asking him if they could have something, he would just see someone snatching something off him.’’
So when her angry small
loss boy who struggled with communication and social skills was gifted a hearing aid and then a cochlear implant, his whole world turned around.
Standing by the family and helping them through the unknown was the team at The Hearing House, a charity for deaf children and their families.
‘‘They are more like family. We could never have done it without them,’’ Anita says.
As FabFeb came to a close I realised I’d spent so much energy focusing on not breaking the food rules that I’d really failed the challenge in a more troubling way.
I’d failed to gather donations and make a real difference in a kid’s life.
I don’t think giving up sugar for a month will give you the glow of good health – I suspect it would need to be a more permanent change.
But donating to kids like Dylan will give you a bounce in your step.
And may I suggest you wash that warm fuzzy feeling down with all the foods I missed over the last month and have since thoroughly enjoyed – in moderation of course.
Different boy: Dylan Hamilton-Ralph is a happy-go-lucky boy now that he can hear.