Book celebrates kids' super powers

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 02/09/2014
Southland Times photo
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

THAT'S ME: Madeline Collard, 4, and mum Vicky check out the Super Power Baby Project book, in which Madeline features.

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Some Southland parents are changing the way they talk about their kids with disabilities - and they hope others will do the same.

Invercargill mums Andi Walton and Vicky Collard were at Southland Hospital yesterday to donate a copy of the Super Power Baby Project book to the paediatric ward. Their kids feature in it.

The book is a collection of photographs and stories of Kiwi children with disabilities, but rather than focusing on those disabilities, the book aims to change the language used to describe the children's differences.

Collard's daughter Madeline, 4, was born profoundly deaf and needed cochlear implants.

Madeline's "super power" was being really good at reading people, and being incredibly observant, Collard said.

Her daughter just finished her first term at kindergarten, something Collard had been nervous about.

"I didn't know how other kids would be [around her] but people are just drawn to her," she said. "All I ever wanted was for her to have friends, and she does."

Being part of the Super Power Baby Project had inspired her family to change the way they talked about Madeline's disability.

Being in and out of hospital, and faced with the medical terms and languagewas daunting, and made it difficult to be positive at times.

"It's a bit of a change in mindset but it makes perfect sense.

"Every hospital and every school should have a copy of the book," she said.

Walton's five-year-old son Ollie's vision, fine and gross motor skills, speech and senses are all affected by an unknown condition. "Ollie is just a bringer of peace, a lover of life," Walton said. "Nothing stops him."

The project had taught her that while she would not choose those struggles for her son, it will be OK.

Southland Hospital Paediatrics clinical nurse manager Marie Irvine said the book was wonderful. "We have always known they've got super powers, sometimes its just the look in these children's eyes," she said.

The book would be used as a training resource, she said.

Other Southland children who feature in the book are Thomas Walker and Matai Kerr, both 2.

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