Monday, October 22, 2012

Everybody Plays

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity, for the second year in a row, to be part of a campaign that celebrates children and the things that make each of them unique.  I became involved in Infantino and Step 2's Everybody Plays Campaign when I met Colette, the senior brand manager for Infantino, at the BlogHer conference two years ago; and the two of us gushed over each others' babies in the lobby of the San Diego Marriot.  Colette, like me, gave birth to a baby with Down syndrome and soon searched for ways she could raise awareness and make a difference in acceptance using the resources she was given.  Infantino and Step 2 whole-heartedly supported her idea for Everybody Plays and immediately took action.  The idea was that these companies wanted their advertising and marketing to reflect the simple and beautiful fact that every child plays.  They are committed to celebrating the uniqueness of every child, and for that I join thousands of other families in saying...thank you.

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So last week, a team of individuals gathered for two days in San Diego and welcomed sixty beautiful children. I was fortunate to be part of that team, photographing each one of these children playing with toys, interacting with each other, exploring their surroundings and capturing the room with their very special something. 

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Each child possessed something different; each child displayed something unique.  There were shy and quiet toddlers and vocal, enthusiastic babies; little ones who cried when their mamas left their sight and adventurous tikes who confidently set out to explore.  We admired their beauty--fiery red hair, soft chocolate brown skin, almond eyes that smiled with soul and wide blue eyes that squinted with delight.  They each have a story to tell--some with challenging beginnings but all with promising futures. 

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And though some of these babies and children might bear extra titles like "special needs," it was clear to anyone present that every one of them was special and each one had unique needs--because that's the definition of a child. 

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This campaign celebrates the uniting themes of childhood--play and wonder and imagination.  How honored I felt to be surrounded by such celebration, and how much I learned from watching these children play together. 

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They didn't see differences--they saw the opportunity to meet new friends, to explore new surroundings and to try out new toys.  Okay, and yes, to fight over toys too because this little monkey squeaky teether was the wanted toy for every baby, and there was only one to play with.  Baby boy will be getting one of these (soft, all natural rubber and part of the Go Gaga! collection coming soon to Target).

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This campaign?  Friends, this should be happening with far more companies and in many more media outlets.  This is real life, and the only way to have it become the norm in our society is to celebrate it when it does happen.  Keep the momentum going.  When you see companies and organizations, magazines and media outlets making good choices and embracing inclusion in their advertising, please let them know you appreciate it.  Support them, share the love and express your voice to other companies that this is good, this is what our world looks like, and this is what we celebrate.

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On a personal note, to all the families I met last week, your children are beautiful. What a privilege it was to spend time with them.  And thank you to the kind folks who came to the book signing last Wednesday. It was a pleasure meeting you, and I am so grateful for the outpouring of love and support you brought that evening.

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Thank you, Infantino and Step 2. Thank you for embracing our family last week but far more important, for embracing children...all children.

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*****

Appropriately timed after my camera-lugging trip, we are welcoming Lua Handbags to Enjoying the Small Things this month. Lua Handbags are the solution for any woman who's faced the battle of compiling everything into one bag, including valuable things that need to be protected like cameras, lenses and iPads. I take my Lua bag (floral retro) everywhere. It's been to New York, California, Texas and Michigan; it's toted cameras and lenses, diapers and snacks, notebooks and make-up and sippy cups. It's held up tremendously, and I love it because it doesn't look like a camera bag and has lots of pockets (as well as interchangeable lens compartments inside). I recently added to my Lua collection and now am the proud owner of a Lua clutch, perfect for protecting my camera and an extra lens and yet small enough that I can carry it alone for grab-and-go or put it in a larger beach bag.

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Lua bags are handmade right here in Florida and come in a wide variety of beautiful fabrics.  I also happen to know Lola, the beautiful mama behind this business, and she's pretty awesome. 

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As we prepare for holiday sponsors this year, please note if you are interested in having your business featured, we have a new address for sponsors as many sponsor e-mails were getting lost in regular blog e-mail. The new sponsor e-mail is: blogsponsor@comcast.net

And thank you, readers, for supporting the businesses featured on Enjoying the Small Things.  I give sponsorship a lot of thought and, despite the fact that there are easier and less time-consuming ways to support our family through the blog, I have been thrilled with the partnerships we've made.  I work directly with all sponsors, review their products and make sure the things we choose are products and services that fit well with our family and the readership of this blog.  You all have helped a lot of mamas and poppas expand small ideas into bigger dreams, and hopefully you've discovered some new sites for your families and gifts for friends.  Win/Win--that's what we like. 

Home feels so good right now.  Good things to come.

57 comments:

shellycoulter said...

This post and all those beautiful pictures just made me cry! Love your thoughts!

tammycody said...

Beautiful children, beautiful photos!

2busy said...

What an amazing opportunity. Each child is so beautiful, and as long as they are loved then challenges can be coped with.

MeWoman said...

Beautiful pictures of beautiful, perfect children.
I am a mother of 7, and I know very well that each child is unique and special in their own way. I have a diabetic daughter, and although you can't see her special needs on the outside, they are there, every second of every day.
Keep up the good work. Love, Kaisa

Melissa said...

I was SO happy we could be a part of the Everybody Plays campaign this year. My daughter, Bella, and I (pictured in the bathing suit and sunglasses playing at the water table!) flew down to San Diego from San Francisco just for the day because we wanted so much to be a part of a campaign and a company that recognizes that kids are kids and no matter our differences we are all really the same! And selfishly, I really, really wanted to meet Kelle! I will definitely be buying from Step 2 and from any other company that recognizes the beauty in all children!!!

Oh, and another thing I forgot to tell you Kelle, is that I have ordered things from a number of your sponsors and I appreciate the heart felt work you do in supporting these sponsors :-)

T Borrenpohl said...

I will make purchases accordingly. What a great post.

melifaif said...

I LOVE THIS!!!!! Those kids - each and everyone - are so very special. What a great cause and reason to celebrate!?! And who momma...love those bags too. #needone

Cinnamon said...

Beautiful children. I love that everyone gets to play - that it is not just typical kids or just special kids. It is exactly what all kids do. Love it and I love following your blog.

Gang Of Girls! said...

How wonderful that EVERY Child gets to be represented! Because its truth. Everybody plays! :) Love it!

Renee said...

I love this, Kelle! I love it all! Those kids are all adorable and as usual the picures and wonderful words that accompany them, bring me to tears. Happy tears! Thank for sharing your wonderful work with the world. You are so talented!

I keep hoping you'll come up north to the San Francisco area for a book signing. :)

Jen said...

Loving the belly bump.... Or should i say "kelle bump"? Totally looking forawrd to the new line of toys at Target, and I want the monkey, too!!

Debby said...

The children are all so beautiful. Love the idea of toys for everyone to play with.
Your baby bump is gorwing. You look adorable.

Stephenie said...

you are such an inspiration thank you for your amazing spirit and gentle words
good things to come <3

HI. I'm Julie. The Stalker. said...

sounds like an awesome conference. i also need on of those bags pronto.
http://www.etsystalkers.com/

YeamieWaffles said...

These photos are great and this scheme is truly awesome in my opinion. Playing and imagination was a big part of my childhood and I wouldn't wish differently on anybody else.

Liane said...

Such a beautiful posts. The words, the photos, the children.. Everything. It made me smile and cry at the same time. You have such a special talent Kelle.

Your bump is getting big! You're glowing! Enjoy your time at home as you settle into the holiday season xx

Carina Ader said...

I love the fact that all the children looked so happy! That's the beauty of childhood, you don't know differences between people. You just see a possible friendship.

Jessie Carnahan said...

I am a fairly new follower, I think I started following maybe about three weeks ago (I was directed to your story of Nella being born from a friend), and I have to admit that the more posts I read from you, the more I fall in love with you and your family! My husband and I do not have any children (yet), but I have worked with children for 10 years, and I just love all that you do to help support children, of all needs! This story was really beautiful, and inspiring, and I would love to see stuff like that come my way! I am hoping to be able to purchase your book here in the near future!

Southern Gal said...

Beautiful children and a wonderful way to celebrate them!

Amy Cappelli said...

Beautiful pictures. Beautiful children. Thank you for sharing.

JENN said...

Beautiful! The children and their individual beauty shine in your photos. I am so excited over your new sponsor. I love that floral bag!

Life with Kaishon said...

The children you shared were so adorable. Each one was perfect. I am sitting here crying and I don't even know why.

Kelly Sheehy said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous! I love your photos, and I love the philosophy of all children play, what a wonderful way to promote awareness and inclusion. Thank you!

Team Lando said...

Ah! LOVE these pics, and can't wait to see them in the ad campaign! (Now if only they'd shoot in DC....) You are doing good things, mama!

April Vernon said...

This gave me warm fuzzy from beginning to end. Smiles to you.

Books at The Paperhouse said...

There is so much about this post that I love: the photos, the children, the program, EVERYTHING.

But the thing I want to comment on is your mention of your sponsors, specifically how your readers help "a lot of mamas and poppas expand small ideas into bigger dreams ..."

Mama, you nailed it. As a past sponsor myself, I can't say urgently enough how much I agree with that phrase. Your readers are some of the most loyal, kind and involved group of women, and I am thrilled that by being a sponsor on your site I am somehow more a part of that culture.

THANK YOU for doing what you do, Kelle.

~ Devon

Oh, and PS - your belly?! Shut up! My goodness, ADORABLE!

Books at The Paperhouse said...

Oh and I should mention, the Lua bags, specifically the floral tie-dye pink/brown, just went on my Christmas list.

:)
Dev

yourfriendrobin said...

I love this post- all these beautiful photos of gorgeous children.

Susi Kleiman said...

This was beautiful... all around.

Phyl said...

You're a good egg.

Tristan Schlegel said...

I love this post so much. What a cool thing for this company to do! It was awesome hearing you speak about last year's experience at I Heart Faces! I hope you didn't feel like puking again this year because you rocked it once again!

Farmgirl Paints said...

What an amazing thing to be a part of. Win win... Love your camera bag. Hnmmm... Oh and your belly....so cute. I didn't pull off pregnant well. Thank heavens I wasn't blogging back then;)

Ani said...

Way to go, Infantino! What fun! I am an audiologist at an awesome hospital called Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare here in Minnesota - check out http://curepity.org/ when you have a moment : ) We're all about celebrating what each and every child has to offer!

fillthewell said...

I have been waiting for this post since you mentioned this gorgeous event. I just knew the pictures would take our breath away. What pure beauty.

Carly said...

Beautiful photos@ I love the natural light. The photography bags are perfectly for weddings since they look classy, but still protect.

Koru Kate {Koru Wedding} said...

Beautiful, just beautiful children. That's all I see!

Sari Rose Dolls said...

Gosh, what happy kids, smiles all round. I am thrilled you were able to be a part of their campaign for the second year running. I love the sponsors you have, support small businesses and moms like me who are just trying to make a few extra dollars!

Bless.

Aspirantemamma said...

Just beautiful!
Your pictures, your belly, the campaign....and all those children! They make my morning sunny!

bvanevera7 said...

What an awesome idea this was -- and your photos are beautiful!! I'm a brand new reader to your blog -- and I am loving it!! I am a sister of a man with Down syndrome (although, he'll always be my baby brother!), and I am also a school psychologist that works with children with special needs :) I love the perspective you bring to your blog and your positivity :)

Erin @ WriteTasty said...

What an incredible opportunity and beautiful pictures! I think that this campaign deserves lots of recognition and love... I love that it comes down to a such a simple concept! Thanks for the inspiration!

Nataliefalls.com said...

Gosh we had such a fun night at the book signing! I loved the question and answer time. Thanks for spending some time with all of us moms Kelle :)

DisneyRose said...

Thank you for once again making a crappy day a little bit brighter!

Valentina W said...

Oh my goodness...Johnny is all over the place! I love it! Thank you so much! It was so great meeting you & being able to share a little bit with you how much your book, blog, pictures etc. have helped & inspired me. I am so thankful for the moment Jillian handed me your book. And thank you Infantino! We feel so honored to be able to be a part of something so amazing.

Masala Chica said...

What an honor. And I would have fallen in love with those children. You have such a gift behind the camera in capturing their spirit. They are all just 'special' - sometimes the human spirit doesn't need any other title.

Just bought Bloom for my friend who had a baby with Downs. Am looking forward to giving it to her, because I think she needs to read your words.

Thanks for sharing. Your writing, your photography. And you.

Kiran

Cathy K. said...

Beautiful photos. I wish there were more!

You're such a great role model, Kelle.

Tonya Staab said...

I know I'm not terribly good about leaving comments, but I'm always here reading and I know we follow each other on Twitter, so how on earth did I miss that you were in San Diego. Maybe, it's that I wasn't following on Instagram, or I would have jumped in my car and headed over to the signing. This has been rectified :).

What a fabulous idea, and such a great opportunity to photograph and play with so many sweet kids. You are such an inspiration.

Lenka said...

This project makes me so happy. I had a vision years ago that we change the visual history of living with disabilities, to have a beautiful book with gorgeous images of people with different paths. I wanted that book instead of the imagery that I grew up with where disabilities were shown as sad, charitable cases. I wanted a book that captured how children and grown-ups with disabilities shine. Thank you for sharing these lovely children. I love seeing our world change. Here and now. For them. And, ultimately, for us. Beauty!

Summer said...

Oh such incredible beauty captured in one post.

Thank you, Kelle.

adoption journey said...

I read in our local newspaper that a child who has Downs in Rochester (NY) is going to be the featured model in an ad campaign for "Back from Bali" Here is the link
http://www.democratandchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012310210005&nclick_check=1

Sara Hall said...

Kelle, Check out this great example my friend Dave is setting for us all here at Clemson!He is in the Clemson LIFE program, a college program and curricula for students with disabilities.

http://www.tigernet.com/view/clemson_update.do?id=7856

Tammie said...

I love your cute lil baby bump!!!! Can't wait to see his cute lil face when you introduce him on his Momma's wonderful blog.

Dawn said...

Hi Kelle, been an avid reader since Nella was born (I have a little guy about her age!) and saw this today and thought, you need to see this. I am so angry about it! God love John Franklin though, his words were my thoughts exactly!
http://specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/an-open-letter-to-ann-coulter/

Megan said...

Beautiful photos, and families. Well done!

Just saw this- Food for thought... http://specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/an-open-letter-to-ann-coulter/

Ryan and Julene Stoianowski said...

I love you blog and was just wondering how to get involved with this group or a group like it. My baby was born then died on the table because of Meconium aspiration. By the grace of God she came back to us after 18 minutes of no oxygen. She has many struggles, feeds with a G-Tube and the newest diagnosis being Cerebral Palsy. But she is such a beautiful, determined, fighting spirit and we are blessed to have her in the family. I would love to be able to be a part of this, and help raise awareness for special needs babes but don't quite know where to begin. Thanks so much!

Ryan and Julene Stoianowski said...

I love you blog and was just wondering how to get involved with this group or a group like it. My baby was born then died on the table because of Meconium aspiration. By the grace of God she came back to us after 18 minutes of no oxygen. She has many struggles, feeds with a G-Tube and the newest diagnosis being Cerebral Palsy. But she is such a beautiful, determined, fighting spirit and we are blessed to have her in the family. I would love to be able to be a part of this, and help raise awareness for special needs babes but don't quite know where to begin. Thanks so much!

nilan pell said...

They didn't see differences--they saw the opportunity to meet new friends, to explore complete purchase new surroundings and to try out new toys. Okay, and yes, to fight over toys too because this little monkey squeaky teether was the wanted toy for every baby, and there was only one to play with.

lindsey. said...

Such beautiful faces and I love what you said about every child being special and with unique needs. Perfection.

I am an ex-San Diegan who was home in Seattle lamenting the fact that I could not be at your book signing. Little did I know, a dear friend brought her four boys down to the store and waited in line just to get a book signed for me. I received it this week and it was such a joyful surprise. Thank you for the words you wrote...they were just what I needed to hear, just when I needed to hear them.