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. 

Calls, Cards and Care Packages Oh MY! Sign up Today!

Is your child having surgery? CCA wants to be there for you and your family.

You can sign up on this page for a "Get Well" card, a care package, or a call of support for you, your partner, or your child!

We will work to match your needs with our resources, to help you get through the experience feeling loved and supported. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

#WonderWednesday: Individual Donors Bring Wonder To Texas School Students

This story out of Texas is full of heart and ingenuity. The fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students of Breckenridge's South Elementary School received hundreds of copies of the book "Wonder" donated by individual donors. Donors included local businesses large and small, from Walmart to a local furniture store. 

On the first day of school, "Wonder" was revealed as the book the students would read. Each student picked up their copy and met their donor for a photo after the reveal. Each day the students begin the school day by reading "Wonder" as a community for thirty minutes. 

What a great idea! I hope this news story inspires other communities to come together on a similar project for their middle school students.

Happy #WonderWednesday everyone!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Martha's Vineyard Mother and Daughter Petition Fight for Insurance Legislation

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Just when I thought I could not love Martha's Vineyard more, I read this story and my heart burst open for my favorite island off the coast of Massachusetts. A mother and daughter, Ann and Criss Quigley, of South Hadley in Western Massachusetts,  and West Tisbury,  on the Vineyard, worked to create proposed legislation to have insurance companies cover medical and dental expenses for people born with congenital craniofacial conditions. The Martha's Vineyard Times quotes Quigley as saying,  "We hope our state legislators can close the loophole that allows insurers to deny coverage for treatment of medically necessary reconstruction for disabling craniofacial birth defects simply because they happen to affect the mouth and teeth.” All of which could not be more true. 

If you live in New England, or even if you do not, write letters in support of this proposed bill. If we can make it happen here in Massachusetts then maybe it can happen in your state, too. This is a story of hope. I hope you see and feel that hope through the Quigley's great work. 

Read more about it here in the Martha's Vineyard Times. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Save The Date For 2 Upcoming Kendra Scott Events in Alabama and Texas

Two great opportunities to shop and give back to CCA with our friends at Kendra Scott.  Come join us on Friday, November 17th in Huntsville, AL  at 5PM...

United States

(256) 217-7686


Tues., Dec. 5th in Dallas, TX at 5PM....
DALLAS, TX 75204
United States

(214) 528-4800

Thursday, October 5, 2017

#ThankfulThursday: Scott Clarke Cher-Toons

We are so grateful on this #ThankfulThursday for the beautiful artwork that our friend Scott Clarke created in his Cher-toons Activity and Coloring Books dedicated to our CCA family. Buy a copy today on Amazon today.
Proceeds from sales of the Cher-Toons Activity and Coloring Books goes to CCA to help with medical care for kids with craniofacial conditions and educational support for interested doctors, parents, schools, and children.#ChooseKind

 Thanks, Scott, for helping us raise awareness through your God-given gift for art. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

#WonderWednesday: Massachusetts Town Reads and Celebrate Wonder Together

Students at Furnace Brook Middle School in Marshfield, Massachusetts read and celebrate "Wonder"
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By Kara Jackman 

I am so excited to share that students in my great state of Massachusetts are reading "Wonder." This article, featured in the Marshfield Mariner, the town's local newspaper, shows a community coming together around kindness, love, and understanding. 

The Furnace Brook Middle School read the book as part of their annual "One Book, One School" program. The book that is chosen to be part of the program is discussed in English, Math, and Science classes alike bringing the school community of over 1,000 students, teachers, and staff together on a single theme. And what better theme than Kindness. 

Sean Costello, chairman of the school committee, is quoted in the news article saying, “Having the whole community be able to come together and read the same book with the same important values and virtues is an irreplaceable experience for them,” said “It’s something that brings our community closer together.”

The community plans on seeing the film when it hits theaters in November. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Ask The Adaptive Athlete: Face Masks and Basketball

By Kara Jackman

Last month on the CCA Kids Blog, we covered a story of boy who popped an incredible 3-point shot in the last few minutes of a basketball game. As the author of the Ask the Adaptive Athlete blog series, I felt a need to show, tell, and encourage all our budding basketball players to play one of the greatest games ever invented. If you have the will to be the next Lebron James, then there is a way for you to hit the court and be part of the action.

Basketball is a fast-paced, dynamic sport that requires very little equipment. The game does get pretty physical. Elbows are thrown, bodies running at high speed with 9 other guys around you fighting for the spherical ball things can get pretty crazy. No one wears pads, the bare minimum you see the average player wear for protection is a mouthguard. And as I learned last season, not all players wear those. Former Boston Celtic and current Cleveland Cavalier, Isaiah Thomas, took an elbow to the mouth in one of the final games of the 2016-2017 season. He was not wearing a mouthguard and subsequently lost a tooth during the game. Thomas was forced to have 9 hours of emergency dental surgery. Hours after the surgery he played in a game and scored over 50 points. After that weekend, he began wearing a mouthguard.

No mouthguard = missing teeth
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So how is it that you as a kid, or adult, affected by a craniofacial condition, a fragile face, and soft teeth, will be able to play basketball like a pro? Well, easily. You just need a mouthguard and a face mask.

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Many professional players wear face masks to keep their face in place. In fact, these masked men are so popular in the NBA that ESPN created a power ranking of players. Check it out here. (Oh, and here are lists compiled by USA Today and Sports Illustrated.)

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Pro ballers wear them all the time. My first introduction to these masks as a young NBA fan was through the Los Angeles Lakers' James Worthy, and Detroit Pistons, Bill Laimbeer. Both were very physical and successful players. Worthy and Laimbeer wore the masks every time they hit the court. Others, like Kobe Bryant and the aforementioned King himself, Lebron James, wore them for short stints after catching an elbow, a knee, or having surgery on their face.

Therefore, if anyone says anything about your mask, all you need to tell them is that Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, and King James wear one. Then drop a piping hot, "nothing but net" 2-pointer, and run down to the other side of the court with your eyes locked on the player that questioned you. Bam! Now, that feels good.

You are probably thinking, "I am pumped up. I am ready to play. I love watching basketball and now you are telling me I can play? Sweet!" Your next question is, "Where do you get one of those masks?" The easy answer is Amazon. But there is more to it than that. You need to know how much of your face you want to protect and how big and bulky you want to go.

Kobe Bryant
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James Worthy and Kobe Bryant wore a very small, simple piece of molded plastic like this one you can purchase at this website. While other players went for more protection, using something like this number from Amazon. This mask is larger, more noticeable, and probably protects much better. Ultimately, you must ask yourself these four questions to get the right mask for you:

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  • How much of my face do I need to protect? 
  • What areas of my face are most likely to come in contact with the ball and other players on the court? 
  • What areas of my face need support, stability, and/or the most protection? 
  • What is my doctor's opinion on wearing a mask? Could it harm or hurt the work they are doing to rebuild my facial features, head, or body? 

No matter what you decide, do make sure you discuss playing basketball with a face mask with your doctor. I am not a doctor, only an athlete and sport enthusiast that wants to open up new ways for you to get exercise, gain friends, and express yourself through sports.

Thanks for reading this installment of Ask the Adaptive Athlete. Please forward any questions you have about sports and leisure activities to me at kjackman98 [at] gmail [dot] com. Let us know if you tried any of the suggestions written about in this series for the blog. We love to see and share success stories.

Happy Sporting!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

7 Benefits of Gardening For Kids

By Amy K. Williams

Amy Williams is a freelance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.


One of the biggest joys in life for children is digging in the dirt. This simple pleasure naturally taps into a child’s curiosity. We can use this love for dirt to introduce our boys and girls to gardening. Gardening with kids can be a rewarding and enjoyable activity. It provides opportunities to bond, enjoy nature, avoid outside judgment, and more. Listed below is the dirt on gardening and 7 reasons why we should embrace this activity with our children:  

  • It boosts immune systems! There is increasing evidence that exposure to the microbes found in soil are important to our health. Over the years, researchers have pieced together a theory that in the past our immune systems were exposed to bacteria and organisms found in the soil, water, air, and animals which fortified our disease fighting mechanisms. Gardening returns us to our roots and exposes us to a variety of beneficial microbes living in the soil.

  • Gardening provides firsthand science and biology experiences. Tending plants allows unique opportunities to observe, handle, and interact with the world. Kids can learn plants, biomes, classification systems, photosynthesis, the water cycle, insects, soils, rocks, weather, and more!

  • It’s calming. Whether it is being surrounded by nature or the rhythmic activities associated with gardening, researchers have evidence that gardening reduces cortisol levels. This, in turn, produces positive thinking and relieves stress.

  • It teaches patience. In a world of instant gratification, taking time to nurture seedlings and waiting for harvest appears to take forever. However, gardening allows kids to see how hardwork and patience pays off.

  • Gardening gives access to fresh and nutritious foods. Growing our own fruit and veggies allows our families a supply of affordable and good quality food. It also fosters an appreciation of knowing where our food comes from.

  • Plants improve air quality within our homes. Scientists have found indoor plants absorb carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds like benzene and formaldehyde found in our homes. These indoor air pollutants have been linked to asthma, nausea, respiratory illnesses, and at times, even cancer.

  • Digging, harvesting, and pulling weeds is a great form of exercise! A study found gardening burns more calories than exercise trips to the gym! These findings are a little startling, but we should consider gardening is a lower intensive workout and typically lasts two or three times longer than a traditional gym workout. Over time, this calorie-burning activity really adds up!


Digging Up Fun: 6 Ideas for Indoor Gardening with Kids

If you want the fun to last all year long or lack outdoor space, scroll through the following suggestions and ideas to bring the benefits of gardening inside:

Start seeds indoors using recycled materials. The opportunities are endless, just tap into your imagination. If you are struggling to come up with an idea, consider using clear plastic pop bottles to create self-watering containers.

Build a fairy garden. Children love the idea of magical lands and creatures. Tap into this excitement by crafting an indoor fairy garden in a small planter. Add tiny houses, play equipment, clotheslines, and more to give a creative spin on the project. For added magic, use a pinch of sugar or glitter to “find” a sprinkle of fairy dust around the garden every now and then.
Create an indoor water garden complete with a fish! Gather a large vase, stones, a beta fish, and a cutting of a peace lily to build a contained water garden. This activity introduces aquaponics and mutualism, demonstrating how fish benefit from plant roots by getting shelter and food, while fish waste provides fertilizer for plants. Plus, it’s entertaining to watch the fish explore his new habitat.

Discover a new island! Make an island with a kitchen sponge, a deep plate, and a handful of grass seed. This allows kids to watch seeds germinate and grow. Soak a kitchen sponge in a plate of warm water and sprinkle the top with grass seed. Everyday, add water to the bowl so the sponge is surrounded by water and can keep the seeds moist. In a few days, the island will start to green up as the seeds grow. Add little decorations to the island and keep the length of the grass maintained with scissors.

Grow your own reading buddy. Remember the theory that plants grow better when we speak to them? Let kids grow their own plant to practice language and fluency skills by reading to their very own sprout.

Regrow edible vegetables from your fridge or compost pile. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to teach the joy of gardening. Consider using selected scraps like the bottoms of celery, cuttings from potatoes, the tops of carrots, the pits of avocados, and pineapple tops to start your own indoor garden.


How do you bring gardening indoors for kids?