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.

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

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.

Photo: ROSE CAW­LEY

Dif­fer­ent boy: Dy­lan Hamil­ton-Ralph is a happy-go-lucky boy now that he can hear.

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