Eight months ago, Shaylin Downs struggled to make it to school. Her chronic eczema saw her spend days in a wheelchair, travelling to Taranaki Base Hospital three times a week for treatment, unable to enjoy many of the opportunities her school friends did.
With her sheets and pyjamas needing soaking off her in the morning, Shaylin's life was dominated by her illness.
This summer however, Shaylin is looking forward to being able to join in with her friends, and even going to the beach, something that used to be impossible for her with the salt and sand aggravating her skin.
The difference, says Shaylin's mum Nikki Hall, is down to a change in diet. "Since Shaylin has been drinking Dolly's Milk every day we have seen such an amazing difference in her skin and it has impacted her whole life."
Dolly's Milk is a raw milk business run by Peter and Margaret Dalziel in Stratford, and they say they aren't surprised by Shaylin's story.
"We have heard from lots of people that raw milk can make a real difference in conditions such as asthma and eczema, as well as a range of other ailments which is why we suggested Shaylin try introducing it to her diet."
With the dramatic improvements in Shaylin's health, she and her family were able to enjoy a family holiday to Auckland for Shaylin's 11th birthday. The trip was funded by members of the community who worked hard to raise $2085.17 through various events and auctions.
"I just can't thank people enough, Shaylin's life has been completely changed over the past year, and it has been really amazing having the community be so supportive of her." Nikki adds that her church have also been "amazing, they have supported me emotionally throughout this, as it has been so draining, trying to manage Shaylin's eczema and keep going every day".
Nikki says that while Shaylin's eczema still needs careful management, "and we certainly don't go anywhere without making sure we have plenty of Dolly's Milk with us", their entire family life has changed. "I can now look for more regular work. Before I was limited because I was often at home with Shaylin when she was too unwell to go to school."
Moana Hancock, one of the fundraising co-ordinators, says that they are "so very grateful" to all the businesses who helped by donating goods and services. These include: Nix Dungeon, Romayse Tutus, Eternal Essence, Dolly's Milk, Verdigris, Studio 88, Institches, Lara Fay Hairdressing, Egmont Beauty, Ink Pot Cafe, Dane Carr Personal Trainer, Bite Me Cakes, Suede Hair by Design, Ann Coles Photography, Ashleigh Tippet Make Up Artistry, TET Stadium Restaurant and Bar, Robertson Eczema Relief and the Stratford Press.
Shaylin herself thanks everyone in the community who have helped her, adding a special thank you to all her friends, "who have stuck by me even when I was in a wheelchair".