A young Berkhamsted boy recovering from a brain tumour is using YouTube to educate other children on staying healthy through cooking.
Darshan, and his younger sister Anees, had the idea for kidlivz in 2017, while Darshan, who was nine at the time, was successfully fighting an inoperable cancerous brain tumour.
Whilst undergoing treatment, Darshan and his family learnt that his diet could help him ensure the treatment and be cured, which inspired Darshan to want to pass on his knowledge to other children.
Now aged 11 and in remission, Darshan and his sister Anees McGregor, nine, are spreading their passion for healthy living through kidlivz by encouraging others to live healthy lives and to give cooking a go.
Speaking to BerkhamstedNews, Darshan’s mum, Samreen, said: “When Darshan was going through his treatment, he needed brain operations which were terrifying and extremley high risk.
“We had a two-month period where we had no idea what was going to happen. This was a very rate tumour and the location of it meant that it was almost impossible to access it without damaging the surrounding structures, so getting the diagnosis was complicated, relying on several operations and medical opinions of specialists across Europe.
“Until the oncologists, who prescribe the treatment protocol, were absolutely sure what kind of tumour it was, they didn’t want to start treatment.
“Getting it wrong would either effect his quality of life, long term or mean the cancer could come back.”
“That’s when my husband and I thought, ‘We have to do something ourselves, what can we do?’ And that’s when nutrition became a really important pivotal moment for us.”
Although Darshan is a happy and upbeat boy who has turned an adverse journey into a positive dream today, he wasn’t always like this.
Samreen said: “He was petrified when it was all going on. He would wake me up at 3am and tell me how scared he was and asked me if he was going to die.
“But there is a charity called The Brain Tumour Charity, and they produced a collection of small animated videos about a boy name Jake.
“Jake has a brain tumour and he has to undergo surgery, chemotherapy and other related difficulties. They’re only a few minutes long, but he would wake me in the night and ask me if he could watch them because it was the only answers he could get.
“It was once he started chemo that things changed, because something was happening, we had a plan and he had nurses to look after him.”
Darshan wasn’t granted funds by the NHS to go to America and have a type of radiotherapy which was critical to protect all the surrounding parts of his brain, so the family had to relocate to Boston and fun this themselves.
Samreen said: “I would like to thank the residents of Berkhamsted, our school community and friends because their fundraising that helped alleviate some of the immediate costs.
“Darshan’s school PTA, Berkhamsted’s Gobstoppers Theatre Arts, the Amersham Rock Choir and the Sacred Heart raised a significant amount, which helped us tremendously and we are forever grateful.”
The idea of kidlivz was dreamt of by Darshan whilst he was undergoing treatment and the name was thought of by Anees.
Samreen continued: “We were delighted Anees named it as her world was also turned upside down, infused with fear, change and insecurity and kidlivz has been a wonderful project for Anees to share something positive with Darshan.
“It couldn’t have been possible without Melody Wood and Nancy Nikberg, two unconditional volunteers, as they helped us turn kidlivz from an idea to a real concept.
“We are also indebted to so many other volunteers from a Creative Agency called Stack, to a friend who is a trademark specialist, to many friends and their children who have embraced this idea and helped us to bring it to life by offering time, resource and energy.”
kidlivz is about staying healthy through good food choices and showing how fun and easy it is for kids to cook and eat healthy food, and in October 2018, the duo launched their YouTube channel.
The channel is a place where children and their parents can feel motivated to take more careful consideration of what food they fuel their bodies with.
Featuring insights, advice from nutritional experts, cooking ideas and a generous helping of fun, the videos follow Darshan and Anees’s journey of discovery, learning about different foods they are choosing to eat and getting experimental with cooking – all in a bid to inspire other kids to do the same, and change their lives ‘one recipe at a time’.
It was March 2019 that kidlivz became a Community Interest Company, and on September 15, the brand new kidlivz website was launched at a fundraising event at HERE café on Lower Kings Road.
Samreen added: “As well as promoting healthy cooking to a live local audience, we raised money to help manage the kidlivz website and raise funds for a charity very close to our hearts, Life Kitchen.”
Life Kitchen helps anyone who has survived or is still going through cancer learn recipes designed to help with the demoralising and often dramatic changes in taste that result from the treatment, and to do so alongside others facing similar challenges.
To help Darshan and Anees grow kidlivz, visit kidlivz.org/fundraising.html and to stay up to date with the siblings cooking adventures, subscribe and follow kidlivz on Youtube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.