Cure Brain Cancer Foundation

August 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Charity of the Month

A very special and brave little girl by the name of Ruby inspired our next featured charity – Cure Brain Cancer Foundation which is the largest dedicated fundraiser for brain cancer research in Australia.

Around 1600 people are diagnosed with brain cancer in Australia annually and approximately 1200 die from the disease every year. Brain cancer kills more children than any other disease in Australia yet very little is known about brain cancer, its causes or how to treat it. The Cure Brain Cancer Foundation is dedicated to accelerating the development of new treatments to increase 5 year survival to 50% within ten years.

A renowned and high profile Dr by the name of Dr Charlie Teo set up the Foundation in 2001 and the charity has gone from strength to strength raising millions to help find a cure for this deadly disease.

If you would like to find out more about this phenomenal charity, please visit their website or Facebook  page.

We are increasing the normal $1 per kindness story to $2 per story shared for this charity so please share a kindness act you have witnessed, a kind act that has been done to you (you lucky thing) or a kindness act that you have done (you wonderful thing you :)

The very special girl also inspired our first “Amazing Kids with Kindness” initiative and you can read more about this here shortly.

 

Be kind to yourself first…

July 1, 2014 by  
Filed under blog

A few months ago I decided that for various reasons I would take a break from Ways to Amaze from 1st July. When I told my husband of my decision he was very relieved, as this passion of mine to help others and spread kindness was consuming my life, which left no time to be the best wife and mother I could be.

A couple of weeks later a dear friend bought me a psychic reading and although I’ve always been a sceptic, I was excited to see what she had to say. With regards to Ways to Amaze, she was very forthright and said it’s something I must continue with and spend my energy on.

I was convinced then that this is what I should do, forgetting about the reasons why I decided to take a break in the first place. The first thing I did was book a night away as I needed to spend time on brainstorming a new sponsorship proposal and it was hard to concentrate on anything at home in the evenings, which is when I did most of my work.

Then for the next 6 weeks I researched and put together 7 personalised, sponsorship proposals. When I finally got around to sending a few of the proposals out the other day I was so relieved, I took a week’s break for the first time in 2 years.

I got to spend time with my husband this past week and amongst many other things, I made proper meals instead of leaving it to the sushi bar, or the toaster to feed my family. I realised that this is the precious time I had missed out on for years.

Yesterday was when the penny finally dropped. I had a mini break-down, my 19 month old son who is currently sick with his fifth ailment in two months had one too and clawed his own face in distress, making his face bleed. I was too exhausted to do what a mother should do and give my son attention, instead having the TV on expecting us to just relax and watch it. I was exhausted, working a part time job, then another 20 hours on WTA, whilst trying to raise a child mainly on my own whilst my husband works six long days so we have enough money to afford the rent and childcare. Like many ex-pats we don’t have any family here so neither of us get a break. How many of us families are in the same situation and how many of us give to others before we give to ourselves.

So with all that in mind, today I announce with a heavy and sad heart I’m going to be kinder to myself and my family and I’m taking a break from Ways to Amaze.

I can’t tell you how long this break will last but be rest assured it can only be a positive thing for WTA in the end, with a refreshed and happier person to drive it forward.

I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and shared their stories of kindness. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Ways to Amaze but for now, I will spend quality time with my family, find my happy self again, learn how to cook better ;), reconnect with friends, give social media a wide berth, enjoy what beautiful Sydney has to offer and save the money I give to charity to pay off the debt.

Please continue to be kind to one another but make sure the kindness first starts with yourself and your loved ones. Thankfully I have realised now before its too late.

Ten Ways to Amaze your Children

June 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Ten Ways to Amaze

by Steve Biddulph, an award winning Australian author, activist and psychologist who is well known for his bestsellers Raising Boys, Raising Girls and The Secret of Happy Children.

Steve Biddulph

 

 

 

 

 

1. Spend a little time each day giving full, positive attention, and physical contact to your children

Have you ever wondered why your kids play up? Children play up for one reason only: they have unmet needs. Of course you feed them, clothe them, buy them toys and keep them warm and clean but there are some extra needs which go beyond the ‘basics’ mentioned. Children play up because they are bored so try and give them more stimulation, like taking them to the park, swapping toys with friends, having a secret box of bits and pieces for imaginary play. They also play up because they feel unwanted and it gets them noticed so make sure you give them your full attention and plenty of hugs and kisses.

2. Make sure your kids play in nature as much as possible

Science is on your side in this. Playing in nature, and getting dirty, turns out to be very good for children.  For example,  researchers think that problems like asthma and eczema may be reduced if your child encounters enough bacteria, bugs and beasties to stimulate their immune system while very young. This may even be the reason that children instinctively put things in their mouths.  (If you find yourself flinching at this, perhaps your own childhood was affected by parental anxiety around dirt.)

Perhaps best of all though, muddy and dirty play gets over that barrier so that they grow up feeling at home in nature, and therefore the whole world around them becomes an adventure, not a fear.

There is even some research suggesting that microbes in soil stimulate the brain to produce higher levels of natural anti-depressants!  Children who often play in nature also have lower incidence of ADHD (because it exercises their ability to pay attention) and lower levels of obesity (because nothing uses energy like playing outdoors).

3. Don’t put limitations on what your daughter can do

One striking way that limitations are put on little girls, even toddlers, is the subtle message that they have to stay neat and clean. This is closely linked in with the wearing of clothes that are too fragile and “dressy” to allow active play.  So while boys can play in the mud, run and roll and climb trees, wrestle and laugh, girls are supposed to sit and be quiet and nice.  More and more today, mothers and fathers dress their little girls in impossibly frilly, delicate and often expensive clothes that in effect say to the wearer “watch out!”, “don’t get dirty!”.   We think we are making them feel special, while all we are doing is keeping them from doing their most important developmental task – having messy fun.  This is a really dangerous message, because it says in effect-  how you look is so important that it affects what you are allowed to do.  

So, we have to reverse this.  And its so simple to do so.  You start by making sure your daughter has, and uses, rough and ready clothes, sturdy footwear, and a durable sunhat, as much of the time as possible – and then letting her know – go for it!. Without any worries about mud or dirt, rips or tears – and washing it off afterwards is half the fun

4. Help your kids play in an unstructured way

It helps if we stay out of things as much as possible. When kids play, in an unstructured way, without adults trying to make it a “teaching” experience, but just being nearby to apply the occasional bandaid or hug, they go into the most intense learning.

5. Keep your young children away from visual screens

Looking at screens like iPads and laptops in early childhood alters the visual brain of a child because everything is the same distance away.  Playing outside, you are holding tiny things up to your face, gazing rapidly away, seeing into the distance and tracking moving things like birds and animals, all brilliant visual exercise.

6. Help your kids become greenfingers

Kids naturally love living things – whether its growing radishes, or keeping a lizard for a few hours before letting it go free.  In fact, give a toddler their own bit of garden, and they don’t even have to plant anything, they just love to dig it, shape it, or poke sticks into it.

7. Don’t spend on your money on expensive toys

Don’t worry about buying expensive toys for your kids. Kids love playing with anything around the home, as long as its safe. Give them a bucket or a few containers, and something to shovel with, a trowel or wooden spoon, and hours of play can result.  If its warm, add some water and the real fun begins!

8. Get other kids involved

When there are other kids around, then play possibilities go through the roof.  There is then so much learning about initiative, co-operation, and how to get along without adults always stepping in.

 9. Be very mindful in the way you talk to your children

When you are stressed out and you say things like “God, you’re lazy”, “You silly idiot”, “Stop that”, “Don’t be such a pest” ‘You’re so selfish” and so on, this kind of talk doesn’t just make a child feel bad momentarily. These put-downs have a hypnotic effect and act unconsciously, like seeds in the mind, seeds which will grow and shape the child’s self image, eventually becoming part of their personality.

10. Be a happy and healthy parent

You can’t amaze your children if you are constantly stressed, tired and overburdened. I often talk with parents who don’t understand why they aren’t coping. They expect superhuman performance without realising that we human beings need ‘fuel’. We don’t just run on food; we need ‘energy’ in the form of love, recognition, touch and talking with others. Look at the people in your life and consider how they help or hinder your fuel resources. Here are a few good ideas to “help refuel your tanks':

  • Learn to be boring to your children occasionally so they leave you in peace when you need it.
  • Spend half an hour of full attention time with children each day, instead of hours of begrudged half-attention.
  • Spend plenty of time with other parents.
  • On a regular basis, do one activity that is not concerned with being a parent but is an adult satisfying activity, just for you.
  • Play your music and cook food the way you like it.
  • Learn that ‘messy is beautiful’ and give up ‘tidy house’ ideals for a few years.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Biddulph is one of the world’s best known parenting authors. A psychologist for 25 years, he is now retired but continues to write and teach. His books, including The Secret of Happy Children, Raising Boys, The New Manhood and now RAISING GIRLS are in four million homes and 31 languages. They have influenced the way we look at childhood and especially the development of boys and men. Today though, the exploitation and misuse of girls and young women globally are his major concern.He was voted Father of the Year in 2000 for his work encouraging the role of fathers, and is Adjunct Professor in the school of psychology and counselling at Cairnmillar Institute, Melbourne. He has two grown up children, and lives in Tasmania with his wife and co-author Sharon, and assorted wombats. To find out more about Steve Biddulph, please visit his website.

The Esther Foundation

May 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Charity of the Month

We are delighted to support a special women’s charity this month called The Esther Foundation founded by an amazing woman Patricia Lavater.

The Esther Foundation facilitates an extensive and award winning residential young women’s health, development and leadership program through ten residential premises, housing more than forty five women and their children.

Their program is full-time and offers intensive support and assistance to young women in a safe and structured environment.

The broadly structured program facilitates specific group and individual counselling for many issues and concerns faced by many young women including, domestic violence, mental health, eating disorders, family breakdown and depression.

Their program offers so many amazing support mechanisms including extensive life skills training, independent living classes like budgeting, cooking, cleaning, a range of therapy treatments and many more, all run from a safe and structured residential environment.

Imagine if these women were shown more kindness throughout their lives, they may not be a need for the these programs. Let’s show them that kindness does exist and share your kindness stories today. Every story is worth a donation to The Esther Foundation.

Please find out more about this extraordinary charity here and head on over to Like their Facebook page. They really do deserve all our help for the month of June.

 

 

Rocky’s K9 Rescue

April 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Charity of the Month

We are thrilled to be able to support our first ever animal charity Rocky’s K9 Rescue, as we think you will agree that animals deserve kindness too.

Rocky’s K9 Rescue is a not-for-profit animal rescue run by Merna Karam, with the assistance of a group of dedicated volunteers. Rocky’s saves loving and deserving dogs and cats from death row in the pounds of Sydney and surrounds NSW. Their rescued pets are placed in foster care or boarding kennels while they search for their forever homes. Rocky’s does not discriminate by age, size or breed. They rescue all kinds of dogs –  the good, the sad and the ugly.

What is particularly special about this charity is it is staffed by a dedicated team of volunteers who work as foster carers, transport the animals, work on fundraising campaigns, administration, website, Facebook & posters. Rocky’s K9 Rescue does not profit from any fees or pay any wages. Monies collected from fund-raising and donations are used in direct aid for the dogs, cats and other animals including paying for food, treatment and vet bills.

Families needed to adopt

This is a very special charity with many gorgeous furry animals that have been rescued by Rocky’s K9 Rescue that you can adopt.

This is Kenny. Look at that smile. He is just one of the many rescued dogs seeking a beautiful family to have fun with. For more information about Kenny and other pets to adopt, please click here.

ken-144x150

We have already been lucky enough to feature in the Fairfield News yesterday (please see below) so we are hoping for lots of kindness stories – you can share them here. An extremely worthy cause we can’t wait to help this month. Thank you in advance for your support.

 


All it costs is kindness
Kimberley Caines
Fairfield Advance
30 Apr 2014

HOW could you not want to share a kindness story after looking at this puppy’s face? Rocky’s K9 Rescue in Canley Vale is a not-for-profit animal shelter that saves loving dogs from death row. During May, Rocky’s will be the featured charity for Ways…read more…

Help save Isla and Jude Donnell

April 29, 2014 by  
Filed under blog

I was standing barefoot on the sand in our local park eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Donnell family. As the car pulled up and the doors opened, I heard a lady shout “there’s Rebecca” and a beautiful, fair girl came running up to me with her arms open. “Hi Isla”, I said, “I’m Rebecca and I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.” A warm hug ensued and quickly after a little handsome, dark haired boy came running up, he darted past me as the excitement of a new park was much more appealing than a hug from me. “Hi Jude this is my son Reeve and I’m Rebecca”. He smiled cheekily and continued onto the climbing ladder. Followed closely behind was their mother Megan, exquisitely dressed with a beautiful warm and welcoming smile, this was the lady that I had been admiring from afar for her courage, determination and for giving hope to the children and families affected by the fatal and rare disease Sanfilippo Syndrome.

Devastatingly last year when Megan and her husband Allan were told that both their children Isla, (now 5 years) and Jude (3 years) had Sanfilippo Syndrome, through the overwhelming pain and rivers of tears, they found strength within themselves and support from their amazing friends and family to do something about it. Last October Megan gave up her full time job to start the Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation which is the first Australian patient group dedicated to progressing clinical research in the field of Sanfilippo. Megan has since almost raised $200,000 which is absolutely incredible but still short of their 2.5 million target to help bring potentially life saving medical procedures and treatments to Australian shores and turn hope into a dream come true.

These two children Isla and Jude lit up the park with their energy, radiance and beautiful souls, yet within years or even months, the affects of this brutal disease will consume their bodies and mind, and their life will be cut so short, we cannot let this tragedy happen.

Please help them fund the research and find the gems, by visiting their website http://www.sanfilippo.org.au/ to find out ways you can help. You also still have just over 24 hours to share a kindness story which helps us give an even bigger donation. Please share amongst your friends and family, as the more people that know the better and the more lives that Megan and her amazing tribe can potentially save, now and in the future.

To see more of their remarkable and inspiring story, they will be appearing on The Project at 6.30 pm this evening on Channel Ten.

The gorgeous Isla and Jude keeping me company

The gorgeous Isla and Jude keeping me company

Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation

March 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Charity of the Month

We feel very fortunate to feature a newly founded not for profit organisation, called Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation, as we are so lucky to have come across such a wonderful organisation who are working tirelessly to help bring attention to a rare and fatal childhood disease.

The Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation was founded in 2013 following the shock diagnosis of siblings Isla and Jude Donnell. Sanfilippo is a serious condition delivering the most devastating outcome to patients and families. Currently there is no effective treatment or cure.

Sanfilippo Syndrome is like a ‘Trojan Horse’. Children appear healthy at birth but as the disease progresses it begins to reveal its devastation. It is known to cause extreme hyperactivity, sleeplessness, loss of speech and other bodily function, mental retardation, seizures, blindness, dementia and finally death.

Imagine seeing your child gradually lose the skills celebrated as they first learned them as a toddler—the ability to talk, walk, laugh, swallow and even chew.

The Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation enables access for Australian children to therapies and trials aimed at the effective treatment of MPSIII, and will drive the science towards a cure. There are approximately 40 children in Australia battling this catastrophic condition and more are born each year.

The disease progression path and speed vary significantly from one child to the next, making it particularly difficult to predict. The disease symptoms cover a wide spectrum and some children may experience some of them but not others.

The disease is often diagnosed when parents find their child missing development milestones and undertake formal assessment. Because of its rarity, the disease remains largely unknown for most medical practitioners and it may take several years before a correct diagnostic is made. It is not uncommon for families to have more than one child affected before finding out they have the disease.

The disease does not yet have a cure and only limited palliative treatment currently exists; Right now Isla and Jude are both doing well but both children are living on borrowed time. Life expectancy is around 15 years. Medical research has recently achieved promising break-throughs with real hopes for the future.

There has been significant clinical progress recently, and an effective treatment is within their reach. But they need our help. By simply sharing a story and speaking about this devastating disease, you can help this amazing not for profit with their tireless efforts of finding pioneering treatments and ultimately finding a cure and saving lives. For more information please read their factsheet here or visit their website. To share a kindness story which equals a donation to Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation, please visit our share a story page.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping such a worthy cause.

 

Family

Isla and Jude Donnell with their parents Megan and Al

 

 

 

Mum’s Supporting Families in Need

March 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Charity of the Month

We are thrilled to support a very special not for profit this month called Mum’s supporting Families in need, otherwise known as Mummies and Babes in Need.

Just like the name says, this amazing charity helps families that don’t have the finances to provide for the basic needs of their children with essential items donated by the community. But this charity didn’t start like that… When Jodie, the founder of this charity was receiving counselling for her post natal depression, she wanted to help mums in her group with one off donations. This sparked a whole community rallying behind her and the response was so overwhelming that she made it her mission to support as many families in need as possible, all whilst raising her own three children under five years old. Truly inspirational lady I think you will agree.

Their team is made up of at least 30 volunteers, mostly mums, who include 22 drop off points, a board and a fundraising team.

Here is the beautiful story in Jodie’s words:

“I am a mummy of 3 beautiful babes, dont have tons of money, but have enough to provide my children with their wants and basic needs. I have suffered from postnatal depression so because of this, I received some counselling to help me. Whilst I was there, I heard stories that really shocked me in respect to how lucky I am and how many others are so unfortunate. I was told a story of how a lady had twin girls, but only had 1 cot and couldn’t afford another cot. So the mother made her up a bed in the bottom drawer of her tallboy.

This and other reasons prompted me to donate some bags of clothes. I was told that some of the boys clothes that I donated went to a teenage mum who had nothing and was living in like a hostel environment. She couldn’t even afford to buy clothes at the op shop. So when she was offered to pick some clothes for her baby boy, she was so appreciative and even though the suit was nearly three times too big for him (I cant just picture, soo cute), she was so happy. So I thought well maybe I could shout out to all my friends and other mums to ask…. If we could get enough likers to become aware of my Facebook page, and donate one item each, we could provide clothing, toiletries, nappies, books, games and nursery items to help lots of families in need.”

We are sure you will love this charity as much as we do and we hope you will share your kindness stories so that Mums Supporting Families in Need will receive a donation for each and every one, plus $1,000 from our partner RedBalloon if we can reach our story target. If you would like to find out more and how you can donate, please head on over to their Facebook page. Thank you – here’s to the first day of Autumn.

Australian National Committee for UN Women

February 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Charity of the Month

We are so delighted to support and feature the Australian National Committee for UN Women this month, who do an outstanding job in lifting women and children out of poverty.

The Australian National Committee is an NGO representing the interests of UN Women. UN Women works in more than 100 countries across the world empowering women and girls to ensure that they are given educational and economic opportunities.

Their role is to:

  • Raise funds to support programs which achieve gender equality and empower women.
  • Challenge attitudes which perpetuate gender inequality in Australia and globally.
  • Engage the support of Government in achieving gender equality in partnership with UN Women.

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is marked on 8th March each year and we would like to shine the spotlight on this important day.

Did you know that 7 out of 10 of the World’s Poorest People are WOMEN?

Millions of women and girls are daily denied access to education and opportunity and bear the burden of child rearing, tilling land, grinding grain, collecting water and cooking.

Without access to education or work, women and their children experience extreme hunger, and cannot afford basic medical care.  Our help is urgently needed and if you don’t have the money to donate, thats okay, just share a kindness story here and we will donate for you.

Reapi and Sofaia’s Story

Reapi was poor, illiterate and had never left Fiji.  However, after UN Women sponsored Reapi and 27 other women from across the Pacific Islands to study in India to become solar engineers, Reapi now earns a steady income.  At the “Barefoot College” Reapi learned to install solar panels and lamps, bringing electricity to her village for the first time.

“Reapi is a grandmother. She went off to India and has come back as an engineer and a leader. As soon as I left school, I became her apprentice and have learnt a valuable skill for myself – that also helps my village. When I’m older, I will also be a leader.”
Sofaia (18), Kadavu Island, Fiji

Reapi and Sofaia’s story is just one example of the ways in which UN Women is working to end poverty and empower women and girls.  Our donation will help provide education, skills training and small business support to help lift women and girls out of poverty for good.

Please share a kindness story now so we can support the UN Women’s work today and you can help change the lives of women and girls all over the world.

For more information about the Australian National Committee for UN Women, please visit their website and their Facebook page. Thank you in advance for sharing your kindness stories.

 

Heartfelt Homes

December 31, 2013 by  
Filed under Charity of the Month

We are so, so thrilled to support Heartfelt Homes this month. Heartfelt Homes are an amazing new charity who connect people affected by emergencies who are in need of urgent accommodation, to people who care and can donate a short term room or home.

Heartfelt Homes works on a number of projects assisting people who find themselves in need of accommodation due to emergency situations.

Their projects currently support people who:

  • Are being cared for in hospital, or who have a close relative who is being cared for or receiving intensive treatment a long way from their normal home.  Their aim is to keep the family close together at such times, without the added stress of where to stay or how to pay for it
  • Have been affected by Bush Fires and have lost their homes.
  • Have been affected by severe Flooding and are unable to stay in their home.

We love this charity so much and  we want to be able to support them as much as we can in January and throughout the rest of the year.  You can help us this month by sharing your kindness stories here or by heading over to their website to donate or find out more information about how you can support people who need it the most this year. Let’s start 2014 with making a real difference to the lives of those in need.

Thank you for your continued support. Let’s make 2014 a year to remember.