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Babies to benefit from Variety Annual Appeal

January 4, 2005

Babies to benefit from Variety Annual Appeal

Neo-natal units around the country will soon welcome a new addition in the form of much needed hearing screening equipment for premature babies.

Variety -The Children's Charity has announced funds from its 2006 annual appeal (February 6 - 19) will be used to purchase Auditory Brainstem Response Machines for selected New Zealand neo-natal units.

The units are in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton, Gisborne, South Auckland and Auckland.

And for the fifth year in a row, national supermarket chain Countdown is naming rights sponsor of the appeal, providing New Zealanders with the opportunity to support the cause at its 57 stores.

Variety Chief Executive Lorraine Taylor says currently only three of the country's neonatal units have screening equipment with two of the machines using outdated technology.

"More than 1,600 premature babies are admitted to our neo-natal units every year and they have a much higher incidence of hearing loss than full term infants.

"About 23 per cent of children with hearing loss are from premature births - so this equipment is extremely important in these units to identify those infants with permanent congenital hearing loss. Results are much more favourable for children who receive hearing aids in their first six months of life".

"The machines cost $25,000 each, so our target is to raise $175,000 to purchase the seven machines. We couldn't do this without the generous support of Countdown and its shoppers"

Children's television personality Suzy Cato is another proud supporter of the 2006 appeal, as official ambassador for the campaign. She encourages all New Zealanders to 'do their bit' to help Variety to achieve the major goal.

"It's wonderful to see the proceeds of this appeal going towards such a worthy cause and I really encourage Kiwis to support the fundraiser in any way they can," she says. "This is a campaign which is really going to make a big difference to the lives of many prematurely born New Zealanders."

Managing director of Countdown parent company Progressive Enterprises, Richard Umbers says Variety's annual appeal will run in every one of the 57 Countdown stores nation-wide.

"As a company we are committed to promoting and enriching the lives of Kiwi families so we're delighted to align ourselves with this worthy campaign.

"With Countdown's reach into communities we are able to encourage local support for Variety and provide our customers with an opportunity to give to a cause that will have lasting impact on the health of our youngest New Zealanders."

Countdown has supported Variety - The Children's Charity since 1992 and it is the fifth year that the supermarket chain has secured naming rights sponsorship of the annual appeal.

In the 12 months to July this year Countdown shoppers have donated more than $155,000 to the charity.

About Variety: Variety is committed to improving the quality of life of sick, disabled, and disadvantaged children by providing funding support. Variety was established in New Zealand in 1989 and each year approves more than 250 grants ranging from $200 to $250,000.


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