Peter, CCA Kid, and Dede Dankelson, CCA Mom and member of the board of directors, recently finished up a week-long trip in Southern California schools spreading their Amplify Kindness message with hundreds of students. CCA sat down with them to talk about the genesis of the work they do, what they share with the students, how it has evolved, and why they keep going back to SoCal for CCA.
Thanks Peter and Dede for all your great work over the years!
Who initiated first contact with these schools?It really got started by Bill Mecklenburg and the Coto de Caza community. They hold multiple fundraisers each year, and CCA was selected first for the "Coto Classic Golf Tournament" and then the "Coto for the Cure" tennis tournament for the last two years. With their financial investment through these fundraisers and the leadership of Chris Jones, teacher and English department chair at Ladera Ranch Middle School, the partnership was solidified with the schools. Chris is now retired, but we've continued working with other teachers in the district for the past two years. The money raised from those fundraisers funded classroom sets of books for all 6th grade literature classes in Capistrano Unified School District. CCA also sends Wonder curriculum materials. From this community, it allowed us to refine our programming and see it build successfully over several years.
How many years ago was that?We've been speaking at CUSD for 5 consecutive years.
What keeps you connected to these communities and this part of the United States, beyond its beautiful weather?We love visiting all of our CCA friends in southern California! And, Peter loves going on "guitar safari" in Los Angeles.
Do the students remember Peter?
What are their impressions of him?
They love meeting Peter and hearing about his prosthetic ear and hearing aid. We also show them a trach and a feeding tube and explain they're just a different way to eat and breathe.
|Art made by Shore Cliffs students|
for Pete and Dede's visit
How has your presentation changed over the years?
Our original presentation focused mostly on comparing Peter's craniofacial syndrome to Auggie's (bringing fiction to life) and promoting "Choose Kind" to others. Our message is now about "Amplifying Kindness" to both others and yourself. We strive to teach kids how to be confident, so they have the courage to be kind. We want them to embrace their differences and have the confidence to pursue their passions. Peter is a good example of that.