By Kara Jackman
Some of you know me, but many of you may not, and that is okay. I am writing to tell you that I am the new blog editor for Children’s Craniofacial Association.
How I Learned about CCA?
I first came to the CCA family retreat held in Boston in 2010. At the time, I was on the board of directors for the Foundation for Faces of Children. I created an interactive presentation to address bullying and the mental, emotional well being of young adults with facial differences. I was incredibly grateful for all the teens that came to my little event. They did not even give us a room. We all met in a side hallway, up a short flight of stairs adjacent to the restaurant. We made the best of a weird situation. Everyone was so kind, and seemed like they took something away from my presentation.
It was not until the days following the retreat that I realized the strength of the CCA community. I logged into Facebook a day after and was flooded with friend requests. This continued for over two weeks. I was inundated by friend requests from people that attended the retreat symposium session, and even some that did not. I was puzzled as to how people found me. Did they see their friends follow me? Did they add everyone who spoke during the symposium that day? Either way, this process seemed to develop organically. It was beautiful to see so many people come together on social media. Many have grown into confident adults in the world with jobs, friends, families, and a commitment to a community that we all call home.
Good things can come out of Facebook and Twitter, if you choose to be kind. (See what I did there.)
In 2013, I went to the retreat in Orlando, Florida for that year’s symposium day. I was excited to see people I had met three years prior, and others I "met" online. During the panel I participated in with some other teens and young adults, I saw teenagers and children bear witness to the pains of bullying, school, and how hard it is to be different in world where everyone thrives on sameness. Again, I was moved. I wanted to do more.
Waiting For The Right Opportunity
This year an opportunity knocked and I answered. A symposium on Apert’s Syndrome took place at Children's Hospital, Boston, in the Spring of this year. I decided to go. I knew Executive Director, Erica, would be there. I had not seen her since 2013, so I figured the Apert’s symposium would be a great way to reconnect. Upon meeting, I found out that she needed someone to keep up with the blog. Meanwhile, I was hoping to ask her if I could do some writing for CCA. Great minds think alike. And the rest, as they say, is history.
What Are My Goals For The Blog?
My job as blog editor is to bring hope, inspiration, and community to new families and old. CCA strives to reach the parents, children, and adults affected by a facial difference. Together we are able to stand up to bullies, tough surgeries, and other curve balls life throws our way. Together we know that what lays inside of us matters so much more than our appearance. And together the members of CCA stand up for each other in our individual hours of need, knowing that we will never be alone again.
The blog is a space to share these stories of struggle and triumph. Victories, small and large, that benefit those that live with a facial difference are the focus of our personal story posts. News, technology, medical research, and treatment breakthroughs will also be featured to demonstrate the new innovations in treating a number of syndromes and genetic differences. Ultimately, the goal of a blog is to provide a crossroads to exchange information and stories about, by, and for you, our CCA family.
Who Do You Think You Are?
|David Ortiz at Fenway Park|
Allow me to briefly introduce myself. My name is Kara Jackman, I was born with bilateral cleft lip and palate. I am 37 years old, live in Massachusetts, and work full time as a librarian at a university in Boston during the day. At night I write about the Red Sox, enjoy running, strength training, tennis, and reading everything I can get my hands on.
I have had approximately 10 surgeries, maybe more, a number of procedures, and wore braces from the age of 8 through 22. I am blessed to have been born in Boston, since it has some of the world’s best hospitals and doctors.
I encountered my fair share of bullies, teasing, and questions about my face. Other people were (and sometimes still are) far more intrigued with my height and my shoe size. I still get a lot of “what size shoe do you wear?” or “where do you buy your shoes?” To which I answer "1 ½" and "at the store."
Most of the physical troubles I faced occurred inside my mouth, nose, ears, and sinuses. I greeted each challenge as an opportunity to practice acceptance and resilience. I still do. It does not hurt to have a sense of humor, too. I am grateful to my parents for encouraging these qualities starting at an early age. Today, I am able to bounce back from most things quickly. I had to grow up fast, but it has served me well. My life is one that is well-lived, because I tackle each day with courage and grit.