Friday, 31 July 2015

6 years

Little Hiccups was 6 this July and I got to thinking about how we started. I remember the first time that I came to Hiccups with my children. Both of my children had recently been diagnosed with hearing impairments. This wasn't a surprise to me as those of you that know me will also be aware that I also have a hearing loss. It's a genetic trait in our family and one that we are well used to living with. What I WAS struggling with however was getting my children to wear hearing aids and back in the day, Little Hiccups was sponsored by Leeds Deaf Blind. Myself and another mum who is also still with Hiccups as well (**waves to Zoe**) decided to give it a go.

I remember walking in and being met by Linsay and just being made to feel so welcome that I instantly felt like I belonged and it wasn't long before I became a committee member. Back then, Hiccups was only stay and play. And we stayed like this for a little while. We'd meet every two weeks for fun and games, craft session and singing sessions. We threw birthday, Halloween and Christmas parties and had a lot of fun, made a lot of new friends and found support with each other.

But then the inevitable started. Our kids grew up. They started school and although we stayed in touch and had lots of lovely new families joining us all the time we missed them. And they missed us. I know this because my own kids had started school and they often wanted to come with me to the sessions instead of school. By now we were doing our annual fundraising ball. We had a little bit of money in the kitty and were wondering how we could use it so that it would best benefit our families. So our monthly family fun days was born! Open to children of all ages we offered discount days out for families to a variety of places. Families could choose which events to come on and find support in a big group going to the same place. These turned out to be immensely popular and when you get an email from a family to say that they would never have gone to such a place by themselves as they were too worried it really does remind me what Hiccups is all about. One of our favourites has to be the cinema. As we have grown and been able to afford bigger and better events, we have started to hire out the cinema room to just hiccups. What this means for families was that they did not have to worry if their child called out or wanted to run around. I have this one memory of one little boy on our first trip running up and down the slope. We'd kept the lights on dim, it was safe and he was enjoying himself and bothering no one - so why not! And that to me is what these events are all about.

Since then we've continued to move onto new things. Wherever we see a gap we've endeavoured to fill it. We've started an Outreach Programme for those families not quite ready to meet a big group but who need the support and a listening ear. We've had a year of pain with a bunch of courageous and fantastic people who put themselves through an inordinate amount of torture to raise funds for a Kandoo Buggy - an all terrain wheelchair. A target that we not only reached but smashed due to the enthusiasm of the Hiccup Conquerors and sponsors and managed to purchase not one but two Kandoos.

And we don't intend to stop there. Our plans for the future are as exciting as our plans that we had in our past. You'll have to keep an eye on our blog for what these plans are...I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise!

So 6 years. It's not long but wonderous things have happened in those six years and it is a privilege to meet every family that walks through our doors and we can only hope that they find what they need with us. If not, tell us - we like a challenge!

And many thanks to everyone who joined us for our 6th birthday party and the stunning Royal Armouries venue with the highly entertaining and colourful Shebang Theatre group who managed to keep every one of our children entertained with their theatrics. It was certainly a birthday to remember!

Here's to the next exciting year (and watch this spot as I KNOW that the next bit of exciting news is soon to be revealed!)


Monday, 13 July 2015

Disability snowsport at Chill Factore

James modelling the Sitski
It all started when I ran across Disability Snowsports and contacted them to organise an event for Little Hiccups. It turns out that there are special skis for the less-abled (and the person that developed these is nothing short of genius). These skis are called Sitskis and they look exactly like their name suggests. The user sits down in a modified chair and are strapped in for safety. There is then an instructor that controls the skis from the back so the user gets the full experience of the snow, the speed and the sheer exhilaration of skiing down the hill.
We had four slots with two Sitskis and eight standing skis per slot and from the moment we arrived help was at hand. Steve from Disability Snowsports was on hand at all times helping organise, direct, put snowboots, gloves, hats, coats on, fill out forms and guide us all to our relevant places. How he remained calm on the face of our swirling chaos I don't know but he did!

Then, sweating heavily in our many layers, we went through the doors to the ski slope and was suddenly very, very glad of the extra warmth. I don't know if it is proper snow (something I'll have to look into) but it certainly felt like it. Especially when I repeatable fell over in it.   

The stand-up Skiers getting to grips with it all...
It took a while for the eight of us in our group to organise ourselves in the right positions and to get all our skis on. On my way to our very safe and sectioned off part (obviously they know how to deal with beginners!) I have this vivid memory of Oliver, one of our children, reaching the bottom of the slope in the Sitskis and frantically signing "more". That moment by itself made me smile and for it a worthwhile trip. 

But then it was our turn and our instructor who had a level of patience far beyond mine, showed us how to walk up hills in skis, brake, ski down and even bunny hop. It was an hilarious hour and I must have fallen several times and had to help my children up the slope while trying to keep my own balance for several more times. The children loved it however and were naturals and I had several requests afterwards for ski lessons. 

The hour flew by and it was suddenly the next groups turn all too quickly. My ankles and knees were glad of the break and after meeting and greeting the next chaotic group, again being guided by Steve, we sneaked off for an ice-cream break before returning home.

Sitski In Use
Visiting Chill Factore definately opened our eyes to just what we are capable of. To think that our Hiccups kid's were zooming down a snowy mountain is just amazing. As the group founder, Linsay quite aptly put it: "Our kids Rock! We refuse to let disabilities get in our way of having fun! ... Yet another fantastic day with our Little Hiccup families. Awesome kids and very proud parents little dude lead the way down the slope.My incredible little boy. Bursting with pride."

We'll be back for definite next year.

Very proud!