REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Regional Australia: Taking lessons from incredible kids

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October is Dwarfism Awareness Month and Macksville stars Ante Yelavich and Ariyah Cohen would love to meet you. Photo: Mel Leigh Dee.

October is Dwarfism Awareness Month and Macksville stars Ante Yelavich and Ariyah Cohen would love to meet you. Photo: Mel Leigh Dee.

Give me a version of the world through a child's eyes any day of the week. Kids, to me, just seem to have an effortless ability for repositioning perspective on things.

Not having any children of my own, I always look forward to tuning into chats with my nephews and nieces for a dose of carefree optimism.

Also, that saying, "kids say the darnedest things"... well, I have a vault of one-liners and passing comments from my littlest clan members that I draw on when I need a giggle, or just a break from overthinking the responsibilities of adulthood.

My favourite is a conversation between my niece, who was seven at the time, and my husband. They were talking about birthdays. He asked when her birthday was, she replied May 4. He asked what year. She replied, with complete seriousness ... "well it's every year!".

This simple remark, so innocent and accidentally hilarious, is in a nutshell what I love about the way kids see the world - candid, literal, with no overthinking.

Kids also have a toughness and resilience that we sometimes underestimate in them.

For a couple of kids growing up in my hometown on the Mid North Coast of NSW, that toughness comes in spades.

Ante Yelavich and Ariyah Cohen are best of friends. They are both from Macksville, both have a fierce sense of independence and were both born with achondroplasia dwarfism, which means their bones don't grow in quite the same way as other kids.

Ante Yelavich and Ariyah Cohen are best of friends. Photo: Mel Leigh Dee.

Ante Yelavich and Ariyah Cohen are best of friends. Photo: Mel Leigh Dee.

According to Dwarfism Awareness Australia, achondroplasia occurs in around one in 25,000 children nationally.

While it's the most common of more than 200 different kinds of dwarfism, it's still pretty rare for two kids with the same condition to be born three years apart in the same little town, as Nambucca Guardian News journalist Mel Leigh Dee wrote following a catch up with the young pair in Macksville.

Ante is almost seven-years-old, a kinder student at Bowraville Central School, and smart as a whip.

Mum Melissa Harris said he even taught himself to read before he went to school. She has a video of him at age two identifying every letter in a roadworks sign.

Ariyah is four-year-old and full of determination to do anything anyone else is doing, and do it better. Mum Katrina Davis and dad Cameron Cohen said she's little miss independent.

As October is Dwarfism Awareness Month, Melissa, Katrina and Cameron want to help educate the wider community about dwarfism and the people it affects.

What they want more than anything for their kids in life is acceptance.

Melissa said sometimes she sees parents telling their kids off for staring. But she says to mums and dads, instead of teaching kids not to stare - teach them to say hello.

On October 25, little people and those who support them around the world will celebrate Dwarfism Awareness Day by wearing something green, you can find out more on Dwarfism Awareness Australia Facebook page.

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