Faith Dickinson believes gratitude can transcend language and cultural barriers.
“It was very moving both for myself and my Mom and Dad,” adds Faith. “One of the women, Hend, wanted to have her picture taken with me to send to her family who are still living in Syria. She kept nodding and smiling at me. And then she called me habibti (an Arabic term of affection) and we all started laughing and calling one another habibti. It was a lot of fun. I won’t forget it.”
Faith Dickinson was one of 20 young recipients from around the world who was at St. Jame's Palace in London, England on Thursday (May 18th) to receive a Legacy Award established in memory of Princess Diana.
The Grade 9 student at TASSS in Peterborough met Prince William and Prince Harry, who presented her with the award, which goes to children making a monumental impact on society. Faith, 14, was recognized for her Cuddles for Cancer initiative, a charity she started when she was 9-years-old that gives personalized fleece blankets to cancer patients, veterans and soldiers.
Among many other accolades in recent years, Faith was also winner of a Me To We Youth In Action Award in 2015, and is the Youth Ambassador (a newly created role) on the United Way Peterborough campaign cabinet this year.
Here she is pictured with Will and Harry...
"It was so surreal meeting the Princes today, it was a dream come true," Faith tells PTBOCanada. "It was incredible to hear then talk about their Mom from such a personable point of view. I got to meet them half an hour before the ceremony and spend some time with them—they were both so nice and caring. Prince William really spent time talking to me. He is an advocate for cancer research so it was really nice to talk to him."
At the presentation, Prince Harry joked with Faith that she was the most talented fellow redhead in the room.
The Diana Award official Twitter account tweeted out about the reference...
Kensington Palace tweeted out a group photo of the recipients, including Faith (bottom row, at far right)...
People magazine also did a profile on her and the other recipients, and tweeted out about it...
Her parents, Mike and Carrie, tell PTBOCanada the past couple days have been "quite the adventure" for them and Faith.
"We are incredibly proud of Faith and the work she does to support her community," they say. "She genuinely cares about people. To be associated with Princess Diana is the highest honour she could possibly receive!"
When she was only 9 years old, Faith Dickinson created Cuddles for Cancer, which makes signature fleece tie blankets for cancer patients going through treatments— hoping they provide some comfort, warmth and love.
Faith had the idea to make the blankets after she made one for her Aunt Lyndi in Alberta who had breast cancer, and now also makes them for soldiers and veterans to provide them comfort.
Over the past four and a half years, the 14-year-old Grade 9 student at TASSS in Peterborough has made over 2,500 Cuddle blankets for adults and children around the world.
Those blankets have been sent all across Canada, the United States, England, France, Australia, Africa, Germany, Poland, the Ukraine, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq and Brazil.
This year, her 4th Annual Kids at Christmas Campaign has started where you can sponsor a Child for $50 and they receive a Cuddle blanket. Faith asks families, schools, churches, businesses and other organizations to sponsor a child for $50.
This ensures that every child admitted to the PRHC (Peterborough Regional Health Centre) over Christmas receives a Cuddle blanket. The name of the sponsor is included on the letter that accompanies the Cuddle blanket. Blankets are delivered on December 23rd every year.
Following the delivery at PRHC, Faith visits Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto each year and delivers Cuddle blankets to children on the Oncology Unit there. Last year, enough donations were raised to also donate Cuddle blankets to children on the Bone Marrow Unit at Sick Kids.
Since starting Cuddle for Cancer, Faith has emerged as a youth leader in Canada. She won the Me to We Youth in Action award in 2015 and more recently was chosen as one of 100 visionary leaders by a publication.
"Faith is a very compassionate soul," her mom Cassie tells PTBOCanada. "She's very thoughtful and empathetic to what others are going through. She very much wants to make a difference in the world and encourage other youth to get involved locally and globally."
Faith's goal this year is to make 300 Cuddle blankets for the Kids at Christmas Campaign. Help her reach her goal:
Donations can be made three ways:
-> email transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org (please include the password)
-> donations can be made at Peterborough FabricLand on Chemong Street
-> send a donation to Cuddles for Cancer, PO Box 1317, Lakefield, ON. K0L 2H0 (cheques can be made out to "Cuddles for Cancer")
Please give what you can and spread the word on your social media channels.
[Update: Huffington Post Impact picks up our story.]
Faith Dickinson created Cuddles for Cancer when she was just nine years old after hearing that cancer patients often get cold during their treatments. The Lakefield girl, now 11, makes the fleece blankets to bring warmth and comfort to those suffering.
Her blankets have been sent all around the world. She has also created a signature "soldier" blanket for her “Sponsor a Soldier” campaign for soldiers overseas and those suffering from injuries or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); many of these blankets have been sent to Afghanistan and Kuwait. In 2013, Faith also delivered 26 "cuddle" blankets to Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
She's now launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to buy more fleece in order for her to make more blankets to keep up with demand. Faith’s motto is “everyone deserves a cuddle." Learn more about the campaign here, or on her Facebook page. Watch her Indiegogo campaign video below. Inspiring child trying to change the world one cuddle at a time.