Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A special fairy tale

January gives us the chance to reflect upon the past year and make plans for the new year ahead.  I am thankful for the opportunities that have graciously been given to us. Through self-reflection in this blog, I have also been blessed to open up and share some thoughts and concerns.  I have enjoyed the cathartic nature behind sharing our experiences of CVI with others.  Better yet, sharing the journey of our daughter that just happens to have special needs and cortical visual impairment.

This adventure that we travel with our sweet Olivia takes us in so many directions.  In September, as most of you know, we traveled to Chicago to be included in the Changing the Face of Beauty campaign.  The "casting call" requested a written submission including 'what makes your daughter special?'.  If you know Olivia, you already know what makes her so special and a joy to be near.  If you don't know her, I hope by reading these posts you can feel how truly special she is.   I received confirmation that she was one of 17 girls with an assortment of abilities chosen to be showcased in this photo shoot.

**CASTING CALL! Mighty Acorn Foundation wants to spread the news that children of all abilities and backgrounds are beautiful! We are working together on a project that will "Change the Face of Beauty" and take place here in Palos Park, IL on Sept 15th and 16th 2014. This project will show the world that all children are beautiful no matter where they come from or what their ability is! We are looking for those 15 beautiful girls ages 3-9 years old to model gorgeous designs.**

The first day of shooting was an experience in itself.  We watched as photographers, designers, and volunteers were all busy completing their task of capturing beautiful children in a "Barn Fairy Party" themed shoot.

Kelle Hampton, author of 'Bloom' and 'Enjoying the small things' blogger, joined the event to help celebrate inclusion in advertising.  We met Mitzi and Brittany from Livie & Luca as well as other owners, designers and supporters of this great cause.

Taking in all the hustle-and-bustle it was amazing to witness how creative minds come together on such a project.  All of the preparation that goes on behind the scenes is never credited enough.  I met a couple moms and enjoyed briefly exchanging words of hope and excitement about this project we were traveling on together.

"What that means for my children is that the media-saturated world, by which they can’t help but be subconsciously influenced, broadens the definition of beautiful and perfect and acceptable so that they don’t judge themselves or anyone around them" - Kelle Hampton

"It’s not just about being seen. More important, it’s about changing the standard of beauty"                                                               - Kelle Hampton

The second day consisted of the children being photographed individually and with one other child by the photographer, Katie Driscoll (5 boys + 1 girl = 6 Photography by Katie Driscoll).  The barn was amazing and the set was designed by Modie Lavin.  You could literally feel Katie's passion for this project and her goal of having the media represent all the different kinds of beautiful children.  Her passion stems from her daughter Grace that has Down Syndrome.  I feel connected to Katie because like her, my special daughter is also my driving force for pushing the limits in all areas of her life.   Olivia inspires me to create a path of success for her future.

Olivia lit up in front of the camera, especially around the other 16 children.  She showed off her genuine side and flashed that perfect smile.  It was a delight to see her shine those two days in Chicago.  I am so proud of her.

This also gave us an opportunity to tour this great city as a family.  None of us had ever been to Chicago so we relished in the evening and toured attractions such as the "Bean" and the Magnificent Mile.  This big city, unlike our small farm town Ohio,  held the promise of wealth and success.  We even gave Chicago-style pizza a try, but it didn't compare to our hometown favorite, Giannamore's Pizza.

To our surprise, Olivia along with 3 other girls and photographer Katie Driscoll, graced the November 2014 cover of Chicago Parent Magazine.  The article spotlighted the movement and the efforts behind the push to change perceptions.

Driscoll states: “With them being the largest minority in the world, they’re the least represented.  ...Anything is possible if you work hard enough and creatively enough."
"We’ve gotta go to the next level and for me, our imagery, our media, is the biggest way. We see there what we believe is important and make conscious decisions about what we eat, wear and do from those images,” Driscoll says. “The more children with disabilities are included, the more our children are exposed.”

Link to full article: Chicago area mom changing the face of beauty

"Change" can occur very slowly at times and at other times it gains momentum and in the blink of an eye change happens.  This movement is currently gaining more steam and publicity.   In a future blog post, I will hightlight the next leg of this movement, #15in2015, #ImReady, #Changingthefaceofbeauty, #theEllenShow.  Using social media as the driving force to push this movement for 15 retailers in 2015 to get on board and commit to use children with disabilities in their advertising.  We are ready!

At the conclusion of the project, there was an online auction of all of the clothes, shoes, and accessories that were showcased from our photo shoot.  Proceeds from the auction went to support GiGi's Playhouse as well as help to build a kitchen for the Mighty Acorn Foundation's orphanage in Kenya.  I felt as though we were a part of something so much bigger.  Knowing that we were involved with something that had an impact to improve the lives of so many is a heartwarming experience.  I didn't want that to be the last of it.  I want the world to see Olivia.  I want everyone to realize that no matter what our individual abilities are, we can all strive for greatness.  Greatness in my book means that we use our talents to improve the lives of others.

Not long after the auction ended we received our look book in the mail featuring all the children including our sweet Olivia.  The companies who participated in this shoot will be provided these look books featuring inclusion in advertising to help spread the word to their consumers.

Then just today, this picture comes across my newsfeed.
"So remember back to this past September when ‪#‎changingthefaceofbeauty‬ partnered with Mighty Acorn Foundation and put on the most spectacular shoot in the history of shoots? Clink Link: Changing the face of beauty/Mighty Acorn Foundation  Well the items were auctioned and today Mighty Acorn awarded GiGi's Playhouse Tinley Park with a big ol giant check! WOW did that feel good to be a part of something that just keeps on giving! " --Katie Driscoll

It was truly a magical two days celebrating children and their uniqueness.

Thank you:
Livie & Luca
Mustard Pie Clothing
Matilda Jane Clothing
Birthday Express
KPea Original
Persnickety Clothing Company
Lemon Loves Lime
Jak & Peppar
North American Bear Co.
Oilily USA

"This project left 17 girls feeling strong, beautiful and important and 9 companies left questioning their future advertising campaigns.  That is pretty amazing." - Katie Driscoll

 Thank you to the 
for coming together to ignite dreams and empower the future of little girls.
Especially one sweet girl
that is very close to 
my heart. 

Link:  Project photos
Video: Changing the Face of Beauty Video

...our magical adventure continues
Olivia's mom