Initially conceived as a way to bring attention to the challenges of families of children born with birth defects, the “For Our Kids Project" has grown into a much more far reaching initiative.
As our first major effort, Finnegan’s Challenge, was developed to both bring attention to the fact that one in thirty-three children are born with a birth defect and also to build a network of support for those families. However, as we started the process of building the community of support, it became increasingly apparent that many other families have experienced an event that has created tremendous stress in their lives and they also need a similar support structure. Realizing that having a child with any type of major challenge alters the life path of those families, we expanded the scope of the “For our Kids Project” to be more inclusive. The need to develop a major national resource for these families in the form of providing mentors, navigators and pertinent information resonated as a major opportunity to make a difference for an untold number of families.
Having experienced the dramatic impact on the life path of every family member touched by the reality of Finnegan Sander’s major birth defect, our mission and passion is to help others with similar experiences. Working withthe Strong Brain Institute, the ETSU Research Corporation, Niswonger Children’s Hospital, we are building a social medial community that will provide support through communication, published research, expert viewpoints, compelling content and educational tools for teachers, to assist families dealing the trauma and stress of daily life. Almost every phase of the parents and siblings are affected, including the emotional, psychological, social and financial aspects of their lives and yet there is no “go to” resource for these individuals. The “For our Kids Project” is building this community of support to provide this much needed mechanism. Having witnessed the daily toll first-hand of the emotional, psychological and social impact of having a child with a birth defect and the very limited available support resources, it became apparent there is a desperate need and the “For our Kids Project” will meet that need.
To support the “For our Kids Project”, we are also building educational tools to support teachers in their efforts to develop genuine understanding and empathy in the peers of any student with exceptional needs. This focus on empathy and the concern for fellow students is a major initiative to humanize education and create a positive environment for children to thrive.
We need everyone to be a part of making “For our Kids Project” the “go to” place for any and every one as we all will be touched sooner or later.