SOME Halloween horrors at Dubbo have driven a push for NSW's first mobile children's ear clinic closer to its target of $360,000.
The Hear Our Heart Ear Bus Project committee is on a mission to address a health problem occurring in as many as one in three young people aged eight years and under that, left untreated, has frightening consequences.
The committee held a spooky dance on Wednesday attended by more than 100 children to, little-by-little, raise the funds to set up a service to diagnose and treat otitis media, commonly known as 'glue ear'.
With the help of the community, the committee has raised the first $23,000 of the $360,000 needed to purchase a purpose-built ear bus that will travel to public and private schools, preschools and day care centres at Dubbo and to towns in western NSW.
Its volunteers were yesterday delighted with all the help they had received from schools this year in holding various inventive fundraisers.
Wednesday night's dance for littlies was another success, raising $500, committee member Rachel Mills said.
Ms Mills, who is also a Department of Education otitis media hearing support teacher, thanked St Laurence's Primary School and St Laurence's After School Care for their assistance with the venue and decorations.
"It was great to see toddlers dancing with big kids all to help raise money to get a hearing testing/prevention and awareness bus to their school or childcare centre," she said.
"There were some awesome costumes."
With such an ambitious project, the committee's job is not done yet.
They set the goal because ear health services in the vast western region are limited.
The closest Medicare ear, nose and throat specialist is in Sydney, according to the committee. Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and New Zealand all have mobile ear health clinics, but NSW does not.
The ear bus would have an audiologist on board to go to schools to test children's hearing, without families having to travel.
Otitis media not only reduces hearing but also affects communication, learning and social capacity.
The committee is in the final stages of preparation for its inaugural charity ball on November 10.
It has secured local ear, nose and throat specialists Dr Rabie and Dr Ridha as guest speakers for the evening at Lazy River Estate.
Tickets are on sale and further information is available by calling Rachel Mills on 0413 687 671, Rowena Galway on 0432 344 755 or going to www.hearourheart.org.