Here in the U.S., many young professionals’ and new parents’ five-year plans include goals like “pay off car,” “save down payment on house,” and “take trip to Hawai’i.” Imagine if we collectively readjusted our focus so our five-year plans sounded more like “make a positive difference for others” and “improve access to quality health care for children around the world.” Really. Imagine that. Take a moment. We’ll wait for you to return before continuing.
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Mandee and Cam didn’t wait around for the rest of us to get on board with this imagined collective shift of attention and resources. After a humanitarian mission to Guatemala in 2010 during which Cam aided children who were dealing with such dental pain, swelling, and oral infection that they could not eat, play, or enjoy life, he and his wife Mandee decided to take matters into their own hands. They set in motion a plan to move their entire family to rural Guatemala for a year to provide free dental care to the children living there.
Photos care of Mandee Quayle
Knowing a second (and third and fourth) language - as well as having exposure to various cultural heritages - can make us feel more connected to others and provide us with expansive and enriching lives. Sometimes, in our huge United States of America, we can feel insulated and be lulled into believing that knowing English alone is sufficient for international communication; we can go decades without ever applying for a passport; and we can forget that the very fiber of our nation has been created through the intermingling of a multitude of languages and cultures.
At times, even parents here who speak multiple languages and who may themselves come from countries outside the U.S. can struggle to adequately instill in their own children the value of being multilingual and recognizing the strengths of multiple heritages. Schools like The Seattle Area German American School (SAGA) take the pressure off parents in this regard - they make it easy for parents to provide linguistic and cultural exposure and enrichment for their children. SAGA’s community in particular brings families together through a shared appreciation for education and the German language.
Photos care of Anjanette Gonzales
When Tammy’s now-five-year-old son Hudson was two years old, he became the 38th person in the world to be diagnosed with a very rare genetic condition called GAND (GATAD2B Associated Neurodevelopmental Disorder). It was May of 2016, and up to that point doctors had been at a loss to explain what was causing Hudson’s developmental delays and persistent respiratory illness. If not for the availability of whole genome sequencing, Hudson might still be receiving therapies to help with his low muscle tone without his parents or therapists knowing precisely why he was not meeting the typical developmental milestones.
GAND severely affects speech, and most people who have it are also diagnosed with apraxia (a disorder of the nervous system that makes it difficult for people who have it to perform purposeful movements, but not due to a lack of understanding or paralysis). GAND can also affect cognition, along with fine and gross motor skills. In other words, a diagnosis of GAND is a world-rocking, completely-life-altering event.
Photos care of Tammy Ruh