It was with much excitement and anticipation that the Tawharu-Rosewarne household welcomed the birth of their 3rd child, Theodore.
Teddy arrived a little early, and by about 5 months of age Jo and Karl had begun to identify some differences in his development, when compared with his brother and sister. The lactose intolerance was one, but it appeared Teddy was in constant pain, and initially they were checking the usual boxes of hungry, tired, and frustrated, before it become apparent this was something more.
Being pushed back into the hospital system to seek some answers immediately flagged concerns, and many questions, about Teddy's diagnosis, and his future. After a paediatric referral Karl and Jo were made aware of the intervention programme through the Champion Centre. Jo had heard of the Champion Centre through her studies to become an Early Childhood Educator, but Karl had no prior knowledge of the Centre's existence, before his initial visit. He informs us he wasn't that keen on meeting new people and, in particular, "I wasn't fond of meeting 'professionals', especially when they are telling me stuff I don't want to hear". He adds, "I thought they would just tell me what to expect from Teddy's diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy, I really thought we would be 'just a number in the system', but what I experienced was polar opposite". In the beginning, Karl felt the personal connection the team offered was much more important than the information they delivered. "I've found I will listen if I feel they respect me and my opinion, and it was obvious everyone did".
When asked what parts of the programme Teddy enjoys and how they have noticed the impact of the Centre's early intervention on Teddy's development, Karl's eyes light up, "It's all about the 'meaningful play' whether that's play sessions with Lisa or reading books with Jenny. Physio with Deborah was crucial to me, through the knowledge and tactics shared by her, it helps me as a father, to push and improve Teddys physical abilities. He's just beginning to expand his interest in music, and I also found speech with Carol another very important learning tool for both me and Teddy. It's learning while he's having fun".
And the impact on the family and work life? For Jo, her focus remained on completing her studies and her current role as an ECE Teacher at Karanga Mai, the first teen parent school in the S.I. and for Karl it was a 100% change in his 'career path'. Since Teddy's birth and diagnosis, Karl has hung up his builder's tool belt and opted to be the stay-at-home parent. Since his unanticipated immersion into the realms of early intervention, he is embarking on his own studies in special education. Karl exclaims, "This was brought on by being inspired by the work of the Champion Centre, I want to pass on knowledge from my lived experience, and be a part of other children's achievements"
We wondered how important it's been, (as one of the few regular male caregivers), to be able to connect with other families at the Centre? "Really, really good" Karl insists, "There's an instant affinity through common ground, and chatting opens up conversations that can be helpful, I hope it's helped others to talk about Teddy" And what about your shared hopes for Teddy's future, are you more confident now? "A 1,000,000%!!" he replied. "Our outlook has changed dramatically, you start with fear and, like a black dot on a white page, that's what you focus on, but over time with knowledge and support you see more than the dot, to the point where the good outweighs the bad, but you need to do that in a safe space, and the Champion Centre feels like a safe space"
Karl continues "We want Teddy to keep thriving, I want him to be able to do what he wants to do, with little resistance from me, or his body, and with the Champion Centre, I feel it's not all on my shoulders"
With much thanks to Karl Rosewarne for sharing Teddy's first chapter with us.
The Champion Centre is administered by the Christchurch Early Intervention Trust, and is registered with the Charities Commission (CC22708). Gifts of over $5 are eligible for tax rebates.
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