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Local youth grow Locks of Love for young cancer patients

Locks of Love Smiths Falls

Photo (right): Five boys from the Rideau St. Lawrence Kings whose lives have been touched by cancer are growing their hair for donation.  Local youth, Owen Watson, and the other players shown here, have been invited to attend WE Day in Ottawa on April 1, 2015, where a YouTube video describing their hair growing project will be aired.  Front row (left to right): Nolan Brien, Owen Watson, Kayne McCadden, Gavin McCarthy; Back row:  Conner Craig.

By Amy Hogue

At first glance there seems to be nothing out of the ordinary with 14-year-old Nathaniel and 11-year-old Owen Watson.  Both are members of the Rideau St. Lawrence Kings hockey teams, Nathaniel is on the Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute (SFDCI) junior basketball team, while Owen plays with the Smiths Falls Storm team.  Both attend school in Smiths Falls.

But look a little closer and you will begin to see what makes these two young role models for other youth, and takes them a step above the norm.  The big tip off that something is different right now lies with Owen; his hair is quite a bit longer than expected, reaching his shoulders.  And although Nathaniel’s hair is currently dyed a bright yellow as part of a hockey team solidarity move, not long ago his hair would have reached well past his shoulders.

How it all began

It all began four years ago when their mother, Michelle Watson, was diagnosed with cancer, Michelle explained, and grew from there.  Nathaniel was 10 when Michelle was diagnosed, and although she said she never wore a wig, both boys were affected by her struggle with cancer.

“Nathaniel is pretty mature for a young kid,” Michelle said. “He understood more of what was happening.”

Nathaniel explained that it was shocking when his mom lost her hair for a year, and it started him thinking of what it would be like to lose your hair for longer.

“I thought people who were in it for a couple of years might need hair,” Nathaniel said. “I just decided to grow my hair as soon as I heard about the program…it kind of just snowballed after that.”

Nathaniel is referring to the Locks of Love program, a program where people can donate their hair for others in need.  According to the Locks of Love website, they are a public non-profit organization providing hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada suffering from long-term medical hair loss.

Michelle said it takes five hair donations to provide hair for one child, adding that she was surprised when Nathaniel first told her he was growing his hair, and why.

“I was completely shocked, but I thought it was a pretty cool thing for him to do,” Michelle said.
Nathaniel grew his hair to a whopping 12 inches the first time he donated it, and 16 inches the second time, each time growing his hair for more than two years before cutting it.  This, in turn, has inspired his younger brother, Owen, to grow his hair, too.

Owen has been growing his hair for one and a half years now and Michelle said the difference between the two boys is interesting. Nathaniel didn’t explain to anyone why he was growing his hair, she said, but Owen tells everyone.

“At the start I didn’t like it,” Owen said, but added that it’s grown on him since, and “I like it now.”
Michelle said that after cancer entered their life with her diagnosis, it has not been a touchy topic for their family.  She sees discussing cancer openly within their family as important for the two boys, and that “it’s good they know that people survive.”

Nathaniel and Owen’s decision to grow their hair has had impact on other area youths.  Members of Owen’s Minor Peewee Rideau St. Lawrence Kings team whose lives have also been touched by cancer decided to grow their hair for Locks of Love, and after a school speech Owen gave about growing his hair, he said several younger kids came up to him and told him they want to grow their hair, too.

“I always feel proud and happy we’re giving it to someone who needs it,” Owen said.

Michelle said that when Nathaniel first grew his hair he didn’t feel it necessary to explain to people why he was growing his hair long, but that the response from his peers and adults was “interesting.”  In the beginning, Nathaniel may have been teased a little by his peers, but that it didn’t last long.

The interesting response came from adults, Michelle said, who often look askance at the boys with their long hair.  There have been times, Michelle said, when Nathaniel has received comments from adults about his hair, and it is his peers who have defended him, informing the adults that “Nathaniel donates his hair.”

“Maybe they look like kids who are going to cause trouble, but they’re not,” Michelle said.

WE Day Invitation

Owen’s fellow Kings hair-growing teammates have also been invited to attend WE Day 2015 at the Canadian Tire Centre on April 1, 2015.  WE Day is an annual series of stadium-sized events, bringing together world renowned speakers and performers.  Young people cannot purchase a ticket to this event, but instead must earn them through taking local and global action to make a difference in their community and the world.

Derrick Casselman from the Upper Canada District Schoolboard (UCDSB) interviewed members of Owen’s Kings team on Jan. 30 and created a YouTube video about their hair growth, which so far has had several thousand views.   The YouTube video was distributed throughout the UCDSB as examples of three UCDSB students who have three traits in common; hockey, hair and character.

The video will be aired at WE Day, as an inspiration for other young boys and girls.  The YouTube video highlighting these remarkable young men can be viewed by searching YouTube for UCDSB Hockey Hair for Cancer.

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Local youth grow Locks of Love for young cancer patients

Locks of Love Smiths Falls

Photo (right): Five boys from the Rideau St. Lawrence Kings whose lives have been touched by cancer are growing their hair for donation.  Local youth, Owen Watson, and the other players shown here, have been invited to attend WE Day in Ottawa on April 1, 2015, where a YouTube video describing their hair growing project will be aired.  Front row (left to right): Nolan Brien, Owen Watson, Kayne McCadden, Gavin McCarthy; Back row:  Conner Craig.

By Amy Hogue

At first glance there seems to be nothing out of the ordinary with 14-year-old Nathaniel and 11-year-old Owen Watson.  Both are members of the Rideau St. Lawrence Kings hockey teams, Nathaniel is on the Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute (SFDCI) junior basketball team, while Owen plays with the Smiths Falls Storm team.  Both attend school in Smiths Falls.

But look a little closer and you will begin to see what makes these two young role models for other youth, and takes them a step above the norm.  The big tip off that something is different right now lies with Owen; his hair is quite a bit longer than expected, reaching his shoulders.  And although Nathaniel’s hair is currently dyed a bright yellow as part of a hockey team solidarity move, not long ago his hair would have reached well past his shoulders.

How it all began

It all began four years ago when their mother, Michelle Watson, was diagnosed with cancer, Michelle explained, and grew from there.  Nathaniel was 10 when Michelle was diagnosed, and although she said she never wore a wig, both boys were affected by her struggle with cancer.

“Nathaniel is pretty mature for a young kid,” Michelle said. “He understood more of what was happening.”

Nathaniel explained that it was shocking when his mom lost her hair for a year, and it started him thinking of what it would be like to lose your hair for longer.

“I thought people who were in it for a couple of years might need hair,” Nathaniel said. “I just decided to grow my hair as soon as I heard about the program…it kind of just snowballed after that.”

Nathaniel is referring to the Locks of Love program, a program where people can donate their hair for others in need.  According to the Locks of Love website, they are a public non-profit organization providing hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada suffering from long-term medical hair loss.

Michelle said it takes five hair donations to provide hair for one child, adding that she was surprised when Nathaniel first told her he was growing his hair, and why.

“I was completely shocked, but I thought it was a pretty cool thing for him to do,” Michelle said.
Nathaniel grew his hair to a whopping 12 inches the first time he donated it, and 16 inches the second time, each time growing his hair for more than two years before cutting it.  This, in turn, has inspired his younger brother, Owen, to grow his hair, too.

Owen has been growing his hair for one and a half years now and Michelle said the difference between the two boys is interesting. Nathaniel didn’t explain to anyone why he was growing his hair, she said, but Owen tells everyone.

“At the start I didn’t like it,” Owen said, but added that it’s grown on him since, and “I like it now.”
Michelle said that after cancer entered their life with her diagnosis, it has not been a touchy topic for their family.  She sees discussing cancer openly within their family as important for the two boys, and that “it’s good they know that people survive.”

Nathaniel and Owen’s decision to grow their hair has had impact on other area youths.  Members of Owen’s Minor Peewee Rideau St. Lawrence Kings team whose lives have also been touched by cancer decided to grow their hair for Locks of Love, and after a school speech Owen gave about growing his hair, he said several younger kids came up to him and told him they want to grow their hair, too.

“I always feel proud and happy we’re giving it to someone who needs it,” Owen said.

Michelle said that when Nathaniel first grew his hair he didn’t feel it necessary to explain to people why he was growing his hair long, but that the response from his peers and adults was “interesting.”  In the beginning, Nathaniel may have been teased a little by his peers, but that it didn’t last long.

The interesting response came from adults, Michelle said, who often look askance at the boys with their long hair.  There have been times, Michelle said, when Nathaniel has received comments from adults about his hair, and it is his peers who have defended him, informing the adults that “Nathaniel donates his hair.”

“Maybe they look like kids who are going to cause trouble, but they’re not,” Michelle said.

WE Day Invitation

Owen’s fellow Kings hair-growing teammates have also been invited to attend WE Day 2015 at the Canadian Tire Centre on April 1, 2015.  WE Day is an annual series of stadium-sized events, bringing together world renowned speakers and performers.  Young people cannot purchase a ticket to this event, but instead must earn them through taking local and global action to make a difference in their community and the world.

Derrick Casselman from the Upper Canada District Schoolboard (UCDSB) interviewed members of Owen’s Kings team on Jan. 30 and created a YouTube video about their hair growth, which so far has had several thousand views.   The YouTube video was distributed throughout the UCDSB as examples of three UCDSB students who have three traits in common; hockey, hair and character.

The video will be aired at WE Day, as an inspiration for other young boys and girls.  The YouTube video highlighting these remarkable young men can be viewed by searching YouTube for UCDSB Hockey Hair for Cancer.

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