Friday, October 20, 2017

Ask The Adaptive Athlete: Follow-up on Bike Brakes

Many thanks to Eleanor and Catherine for their question about how to adapt a bike's brakes. We enjoyed answering your question in our first "Ask The Adaptive Athlete" blog post published in August 2017. Even better, you were kind enough to update us on your daughter's progress after implementing the advice we provided about installing coaster brakes on the bike. Here it is:

Hi CCA Kids blog Thanks for your help regarding the bike information. Catherine just collected her new bike with coaster brakes from a wonderful shop in Dublin Ireland called Angel Bikes. She will have many independent years cycling on this very pretty bike! Thanks again Eleanor & Catherine

Thanks for the picture, too. It is worth a thousand joyful words.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

#WonderWednesday: Alumna Speaks at Marysville, Washington Elementary School

Beauchamp takes a selfie after her visit with Hillcrest Elementary School

The students in Jessica Simonson's Hillcrest Elementary School classroom in Lake Stevens, Washington enjoyed the opportunity to learn first hand about kindness thanks to a visit from Abby Beauchamp, a 24 year old woman born with Lymphatic Formation. In this article published by the Herald Net, we read how elementary school teacher, Jessica Simonson read the book "Wonder" with her students. She asked Beauchamp if she would share her story, which is very similar to that of the book's protagonist, Auggie Pullman. Beauchamp spoke about what it felt like to live with a facial difference and the impact kindness has on everyone, but especially those who look different. 

If your school or community group is currently reading "Wonder" and you would like to have a child or adult speak to your group, contact Annie Reeves to make the arrangements.  Skype calls are also available. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Teacher Profile: Teaching "Wonder," Teaching Empathy

Abby Beauchamp embraced by a group of students at 

By Jessica Simonson 

I have read Wonder by R.J. Palacio to my fifth graders as our very first read aloud for the last three years. It is an important book. As a children’s literature superfan, I’ve read thousands of picture books and novels, and Wonder stands out in its ability to connect with its young readers and communicate empathy. Studies show that empathy is an emotion that needs to be taught. It is a human trait found in our prefrontal cortex and is developed through experiences and conversations about “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.”  I am comforted knowing that as I read Wonder to my students, I am helping them develop this very human emotion.

I also love that Wonder has provided a shared language to use with my students. I can encourage them to “be a Summer” which they know means: be the kid that finds someone who needs a friend. Reach out. Kindness can take a little bit of bravery because you are the one putting yourself out there, but it’s worth it!

This year, our read aloud was brought to the next level. We met a Wonder Kid! Abby Beauchamp, a 24 year-old who grew up with craniofacial differences came and met with our third through fifth graders at an assembly. I have never seen a group of 400 children so riveted. When Abby shared her story of how she was treated throughout her school career, you could see the shock on the faces of the children. When she told them that she ate lunch by herself in the bathroom stall for the better part of middle school, they were outraged. They were hurt for her. You could see empathy being developed in 400 little hearts and brains right before your very eyes. I was moved to tears. And to put things in perspective for you, I didn’t even cry during the movie Titanic! (And my thirteen year-old-self LOVED Leonardo DiCaprio with all my heart!)

Abby left the assembly feeling like a rock star which to her, was a very new experience! My kids left feeling like they had made a new BFF.  We all left knowing that next time we meet someone that looks different, we shouldn’t point or stare or whisper. We shouldn’t assume they have special needs. We just need to smile, shake their hand, and treat them like we would anyone else because really, they are just like us! All we need to do is change the way we see.

As one of my kids wrote in his thank you note to Abby, “you helped change our hearts and our minds, and I’ll make sure that no kid will ever feel like they need to eat lunch alone in a bathroom stall ever again.”  #ChooseKind

#ThankfulThursday: Words and Photos From Pittsbugh's First Friend-raiser Event

It is always great to get positive mail from our CCA friends and families that do new and great things during Craniofacial Acceptance Month. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania got introduced to all the Wonder that is CAM last month, thanks to Elizabeth Kearns and Lisa Bowers. Here is what Elizabeth wrote to us about their experience hosting the first picnic in September: 

September 17th was a beautiful day for Pittsburgh's First Craniofacial Acceptance Picnic! Nine families gathered from all over Western PA to talk treatment, lament about doctors...surgeries, but mostly to watch the kids being kids and to eat some delicious food!  The kids painted rocks for the Kindness Rocks initiative and we made custom tote bags with everyone's wonderful and unique hand-prints. We hope to see everyone and MORE next year!  

We had nine local families in attendance with children and young adults with Crouzon, Pfieffer, Apert, and Treacher Collins syndromes. 

Check out these great pictures, too. Looks like everyone had an absolute blast. 

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