By Faith Dickinson
When I was nine years old, I was told that my Aunt Lyndi in Alberta had been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. Together, my mom and I often made fleece-tie blankets to give to family and friends on special occasions, so I decided to make my aunt one; her chemo treatments often made her cold, and so she was extremely grateful for it. Later, I made blankets for my grade four teachers as end-of-year gifts. When they opened them, they smiled and told me they couldn’t wait to cuddle into them. My French teacher, who was retiring, even cried because she was so touched that someone cared about her. When my mom picked me up from school that day, I told
her that I wanted to make more blankets and share them with others, so that they too could feel good.
Every blanket has a story
I have learned that every blanket is unique. There have been many times during the past six years when I’ve felt burnt out and thoroughly exhausted, but it’s the personal stories of those receiving the blankets that keep me going.
I have met some very special people on my journey with Cuddles for Cancer and they have all touched my heart deeply. They inspire me to continue; to keep making a difference in the lives of others. I love to share my story with youth across the GTA and encourage them to find a cause that they are passionate about.
I also teach students how to make the Cuddle Blankets, so we can donate them to various hospitals and organizations. And now we have our first ever Cuddles for Cancer Drop-In Centre in Lakefield, Ontario. It opened this past November. People of all ages are welcome to come in and make the blankets. Seniors mentor youth, families come in together and we all make blankets. High-school students volunteer at the centre to earn their community hours, and we hold special events that are geared toward making a difference for various causes. I hope to open another branch of Cuddles for Cancer this summer in Alberta to help involve more youth across the country.
Never too young
I truly believe that you’re never too young to make a difference. I have seen, firsthand, that youth do care about the world they live in and they do care about helping others. They are eager to get involved and make a difference, and they need to be given the opportunities to do so. They have great ideas and so much to offer!
Princess Diana believed that youth have the power to change the world. I also believe this with all my heart. Last May, I was presented with one of 20 inaugural Diana Awards by Princes William and Harry in London, England. That award completely changed my life. I met 19 youth from around the world who are doing amazing things. They have inspired me to want to do more!
I am grateful to have been raised by parents who have always encouraged me to dream big, reach for the stars and believe in myself. They instilled in me the conviction that we have an obligation to help others in our communities and those less fortunate around the world.
Faith Dickinson is a 15-year-old student from Lakefield, Ontario, who created the Cuddles for Cancer initiative at the young age of nine. She will continue advocating for those in need while she completes her high-school degree and pursues a business degree after she graduates. Faith’s hard work and dedication to providing “cuddles” for those suffering has been recognized all around the world.