Shaun and Dawn Smith are from Oswaldtwistle, near Accrington in Lancashire, and have been Shine members for nearly six years. Together, with their friends and family, they have raised thousands of pounds for Shine. We
catch up with them to find out why.
Why do you support Shine?
Shaun: We have a six year old boy with hydrocephalus. When Harrison was diagnosed at three weeks old, we did not have a clue what he had and we were put in touch with Shine (ASBAH at the time). Shine gave us relevant information that helped us cope in the early days.
Dawn: We had never heard of hydrocephalus when Harrison was born, and I still don’t think people are aware of it. The Benny Bear books have helped my children understand a little more. I think we need to help raise money to benefit children and adults with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus who need Shine’s support.
What kinds of fundraising have you completed?
Shaun: We have done all kinds of events! Our daughter Mollie did a sponsored haircut when she was seven years old. We’ve put on a sponsored swim, a pub crawl, two 12.5-mile walks along the Leeds-Liverpool canal, two family auction nights, and non-uniform days at local schools. One of my daughters is responsible for the ‘Pout for Shine’ initiative which was a success for Shine on Facebook and Twitter.
Dawn: We have raised approximately £16,000 altogether over the five years we have fundraised. We are very lucky to have good friends, and family who are always willing to help in some way.
Facebook also helps a great deal to raise awareness of the events we put on.
What do you enjoy about fundraising?
Dawn: We love getting everybody together, it’s always fun. We enjoy the laughter, and seeing everyone enjoying themselves.
Shaun: We always try to do something different. We’ve already been asked what our plans are for next year’s event, even though we have only recently finished this year’s! We enjoy seeing if we can beat the previous year as well, because all funds are needed to help Shine’s cause.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about raising money for Shine?
Dawn: Just go for it! We love it; organising the walk is easier, but the auctions are a lot of fun and really worth doing.
Shaun: Try and do something different. Use your skillset to decide what will work, enlist as many enthusiastic people as you can for ideas, and get them involved as they will take as much pride as you with what you can achieve.
The Health Hub, which is currently under construction at Shine’s Head Office, will, for the first time, enable the Shine Health Team to offer individually tailored health checks in physical and mental health, and activities of daily living.
We know that in order to be healthy and feel good, many aspects of our lives have to come together; our physical health can affect our relationships, which impacts our emotional health, and so on. By looking at each
individual in this holistic way, and by using our specialist knowledge of spina bifida and hydrocephalus, we hope to be able to work with you to develop plans of action and support, and ultimately help you improve your health.
The Shine Health Team firmly believes that in order to make the most of what life has to offer, you need to feel as good as you can, both physically and emotionally. You also need the right support and access. Spina bifida and hydrocephalus can both create challenges in health and wellbeing, with hydrocephalus in particular causing problems with recognising when things are wrong, and following healthcare routines etc.
We have been working to devise a health check system that will give you the chance to explore your conditions, find out more about how to care for yourself, help you improve communication with your healthcare professionals, and discover what equipment or adaptations could improve your quality of life. In addition, we are looking at opportunities to use the space for healthrelated activities, such as exercise, stress busting,
mindfulness, and weight management.
We realise that not everyone can get to the Head Office with ease, so we are exploring ways to make our services more accessible than ever. Building on the success of Robin’s Google Hangout sessions, we are looking at ways in which members can join in wherever they are by logging in online.
We are working closely with the SAMC to ensure we really are going to meet members’ needs, and have had some fantastic suggestions already. We are hoping to pilot the health checks very soon – we look forward to seeing
Contact the Health Team on T: 01733 555988 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Event Date/Time: November 26, 2014 10:00AM – 12:00PM
Location: Shine HQ, 42 Park Road, Peterborough, PE1 2UQ
A support group for parents/carers of children aged 0-5 years who have spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus/IIH.
Come along and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea whilst the children play.
Commenting, Shine Support and Development Worker, Sharon Lapsley said:
“This is a great opportunity to meet other parents. In addition a Shine Support & Development Worker is on hand to discuss in confidence any issues you may wish to raise.”
Parking is very limited at Shine but there is a Pay & Display car park located very close to our offices.
- Event: Shine Event
- Event Type: Social
- Event Cost: Free
You may have come across the term ‘mindfulness’ recently and wondered what it is all about. The word seems to be applied to a variety of different topics including meditation, exercise, food, work, and education.
Members who attended the Shine40Plus conference earlier this year are more familiar with the term, thanks to Dr Trudi Edginton, Senior Lecturer of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Westminster, who was a main speaker at the event. Trudi’s presentation stirred up a real interest in mindfulness, leaving many Shine members wanting to practice it themselves.
Mindfulness is said to change the way we think, feel, and act. It is a process in which the person practising mindfulness is encouraged to increase their awareness of one moment becoming another moment, enabling more consciousness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment.
Trudi begins by explaining that mindfulness is not a single thing, but ‘a collection of techniques which people can use to become more aware of the present moment’. This idea of becoming more involved in what is happening in the here and now is central to this way of being. Trudi elaborates: ‘By either thinking of the past or focussing on the future, we may not actually experience the present moment. So, mindfulness is about coming back to the present moment and trying not to worry about the future or focus too much on the past.’
As with any new concept which sweeps the world via the internet, there are versions of mindfulness which have strayed from the original purpose. According to Trudi: ‘One of the most common myths about mindfulness is that you have to empty your mind – that’s actually quite difficult to do – and you don’t have to relax either.
‘Through the self-awareness mindfulness brings, we can realise that we aren’t actually our thoughts; for example, having a negative thought doesn’t have to define you … It’s all about choice and awareness, and paying attention, as opposed to emptying your mind.’
Further to this, there is the idea that mindfulness is intended to bring about a nirvana-like experience, but Trudi is keen to correct this misconception: ‘Mindfulness is very much about being, not striving, not trying to change anything, but just being aware of things. It’s very … very accepting and just about managing your experience on a day-to-day basis; it’s quite a gentle approach and this often surprises people when they come to it.’
Mindfulness – real change
In response to those who are sceptical about techniques like mindfulness, thinking they are a bit ‘out there’ or unscientific, Trudi points out that research is proving its real effects.
‘Mindfulness interventions are linked to very real changes in the brain itself, and the particular parts of the brain that change and grow are the ones that help us with our emotional wellbeing.’
In addition to this, she says, regular mindfulness practice can also lead to a reduction in some of the stress hormones in the body, and this reduction can in turn strengthen your immune function.
When mindfulness may not be appropriate
One important, and sometimes neglected, factor is that there are times when mindfulness might not be right for you at a particular time in life. As Trudi explains: ‘If someone is feeling very depressed, it might not be the right time for mindfulness when difficult emotions or thoughts might be arising, so it’s important to have effective guidance and support if you are thinking of trying mindfulness – there are lots of very good mindfulness instructors and courses available.’
Mindfulness and hydrocephalus and spina bifida
Through her work with people with hydrocephalus and spina bifida, Trudi and her colleagues are very aware that some people experience memory difficulties, problems with organising, and planning ahead. Interestingly, Trudi says that this can sometimes lead to people experiencing high levels of anxiety…’It can be difficult to feel confident and comfortable if you’re not quite sure what is going to be presented to you in the future.’
The Shine members to whom Trudi has introduced mindfulness have found it really beneficial. She says they report ‘feeling quite grounded and comfortable with their body, and became comfortable with some of the experiences they had in the moment, so it can be a useful technique in terms of managing stress and negative emotions.’
Benny has a brand-new friend!
At last the day Benny has been waiting for has come – Baby Bella Bear has been born!
Young Together readers chose the name for this unique baby before she was born this Summer, and Benny is very excited because he now has a little bear friend to share his life with.
Bella Bear is already eight weeks old, and last month she came home from hospital to start enjoying life with her mummy and daddy.
Like Benny, Bella has hydrocephalus and like many members of Shine she also has spina bifida. We are sure that together, Benny and Bella are going to have lots of exciting adventures and help each other whenever they can.
Because Bella has spina bifida, some special things happened to her after she was born. When you have spina bifida it often means your back has a little open place when you are born.
So, some very clever doctors did a special operation to help mend Bella’s back and help it close up. If you are a little boy or girl with spina bifida then this probably happened to you – you might even be able to find your special scar.
Because Bella is so tiny, she didn’t really know anything about the operation, she just wanted to be back with her Mummy for a cuddle as soon as she could. A few days after the operation on her back, Bella had another
operation, this time for her hydrocephalus. Some more clever doctors and kind nurses put a shunt into Bella’s head, which will help her live with her hydrocephalus. If you are a little boy or girl with hydrocephalus you might already know about shunts and have one yourself, just like Benny and Bella.
After Bella had her operations, Benny was told he could go and see her for a very short visit in the hospital. He couldn’t wait, especially when he heard that Bella had a shunt just like him. He wanted to tell her not to worry,and that living with a shunt was easy-peasy most of the time. Benny thought hard about what to take Bella for a present, and then had the greatest idea…what about her own Benny Bear? Yes, Bella could be an extra special member of the Benny Bear Club!
Although Bella was a bit too little to understand how special it is to be a Benny Bear Club member, Bella’s mummy was thrilled and told Benny what a kind bear he was. She put the little Benny Bear toy in Bella’s hospital cot.
Benny felt very happy – he had pleased Bella’s mum and he also had a brand new friend! He loved all his other friends of course, but somehow he knew that Bella was going grow up to be his very best friend forever and ever.
Benny Bear Books for YOUR tablet, kindle or mobile device! @CivilSocietyUK @CharityDigiNews #Hydrocephalus
Benny Bear is a special bear, he has a shunt to help treat his hydrocephalus and loves to play games, go to school and make friends.
“These are stories about a special bear with a shunt but lots of girls and boys have shunts too. Perhaps you are one of them.”
To download the stories NOW please CLICK HERE!
To find out more about Benny Bear please visit www.shinecharity.org.uk/BennyBear
by Michael Jones
It is very difficult to find suitable accommodation with disabled access. I recently spent some time searching for somewhere, and was pleasantly surprised when I discovered the Palm Tree Cottage in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex.
The adapted cottage has fantastic facilities all round: the beds are laid out with a wheelchair in mind, there’s a wheelchair-accessible shower room, and an accessible toilet with lift bars.
The cottage is very close to the beach, and there is a wooden ramp onto the beach too. Plus, the owners helped out when we needed anything.
For more details, visit their website by CLICKING HERE!