There is not a person on Earth who has not endured some type of challenge, and it’s no exception to have felt like an island, isolated from the rest of the world. I, too, have felt this throughout my life and I share my world in an effort to ignite hope, affirming that you are never alone. Like the title of this magazine, I reach out to those with common experiences in the hope of helping others feel “alive” again.
My journey began when my daughter, Naomi, soon after her birth, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy due to an en utero stroke. Although my thoughts on paper are geared for the special needs community, even those who have never been introduced to the special needs world can relate to the emotions of which I mention. We all are spiritual beings having a human experience. For those with special needs or if you have a loved one diagnosed with special needs, it is a world where adjustments you never envisioned having to learn (or re-learn) are now a part of your everyday reality.
As a special needs parent, my goal is to reach others who may feel like the rest of the world just doesn’t understand the upstream battles of those dealing with limitations of a medical, intellectual, or physical nature. The vision began when I wrote “I See You, Little Naomi,” a children’s story about my daughter. By creating this platform to educate, instill compassion and understanding, I was able to come to terms with each new phase of my daughter’s development.
When my family and I were first given the news of the extent of her brain trauma, my fears about my daughter’s future was overwhelming—almost too much to bear. As a means to alleviate some of that despair, I began a journey of bridging a gap through awareness and support. It was (and is) about building meaningful relationships between the special needs and mainstream communities, because in many ways, it takes a village to thrive.
On July 21st, in Hollywood, California, I will have the privilege of being involved in a special needs prom event through the non-profit organization, InClusion ClubHouse. What began as a one-time attendance to an event, where all kids could enjoy a night of pampering and dancing, is now my permanent role on the board as facilitator to expand the organization’s mission to Northern California. My daughter’s test has now become a testimony. It is because of her strength and survival that I was taught true strength. And that applies not just to me but to my entire family.
For those who can relate to my experience as a parent, I want you to know that meaningful support is all around you. It does not depend on you alone to provide a joyful, safe and productive life for your child or family member. And it takes more than living just to make it through the day to be “ALIVE”—it takes a village.
For more information about the Special Needs Prom, visit http://www.inclusionclubhouse.org or follow Stefanie’s Facebook page @ItTakesASpecialVillage
“I See You, Little Naomi” is available on Amazon.com