Let kids be kids

The Princess Alexa Foundation, a volunteer run 501(c)(3) with a mission to celebrate the childhood spirit of seriously ill children through dress up and play, is the region three winner of the Together We Play™ essay contest. The Foundation, which is based in Keller, Texas, was developed by Alexa’s mom after Alexa lost her battle with cancer. Read the excerpt below to learn more about the drive to bring an inclusive (and pink!) playground to the community of Keller.

“In June 2008, a 4-year-old girl laid in a hospital bed. She had been battling cancer for more than two years and was stricken with her first, but extremely aggressive infection that had found its way into her lungs. Held down by the numerous tubes exiting her body, a smile erupted across her face at the thought of one thing… a pink playground. ‘Mommy?’

‘Yes, Alexa?’

‘I want to go to a park. A pink park. I want to go there when I get better.’

It was in that moment, sitting by her bedside in the hospital room that had been our home for so long, that I promised my little girl I would get her to that playground. Just hours after Alexa declared her desire, her body succumbed to the fatal infection and gave way to a coma. A week later, Alexa passed away in my arms as her father held us in his.

My daughter not only left me with the gift of her inspirational life, but also the drive to do something in her memory. I believe that children with debilitating conditions should be able to feel as close to normal as possible. Let kids be kids. And what do kids do best? They PLAY! I needed to help other children with unique circumstances like hers. It was like my pain was the fuel I needed to give my own life away in service. Alexa was going to get a playground of her own to share with all the friends she left behind, including the ones in wheelchairs.”

Have you met Norm?

I am Norm. You are Norm. Your neighbor is Norm. According to I am Norm, a campaign designed by young people to promote the acceptance, respect and inclusion of youth with disabilities, Norm is everyone. And everyone has at least one thing in common: that we’re all different.

In January 2010, 20 young people from across the country–with and without disabilities–came together in Washington, D.C. to create the I am Norm campaign. All of the young people shared a goal of raising awareness about inclusion and promoting inclusive practices in schools and communities. Learn more about the creation of I am Norm by watching the video below.

Help educate your community and local schools about the importance of inclusion. One way to do that is to promote the I am Norm campaign. Share their website and videos on your social media sites, blogs, etc. Learn more about I am Norm at iamnorm.org.