Scott Thompson, co-founder of Oaklantis Swimming alongside lifelong Oakland swimmer and equal access advocate Tracy Fidell, began swimming at the age of six. Scott swam competitively all the way through college, competing for the University of Florida under coach Gregg Troy, a U.S. National Team coach and the 2008 head U.S. Olympic coach for the U.S. Scott excelled in the sport: he was a multiple-time Michigan State Champion in high school, All-State, All-American, and Sectional Champion. In other words, Scott did not just wake up one day and say, “Hmmm… I think I’ll start an organization to expand access to swimming for kids in Oakland.” He has lived, breathed, and swum opportunity and excellence in the sport his entire life.
Photos care of Thompson Homonnay Photography
Before Brittany Williams’ daughter Brylan had celebrated her first birthday, she was diagnosed with primary lymphedema, a condition that causes accumulation of lymph in the body’s soft tissue. Though there is currently no cure for lymphedema, there is treatment to help manage the painful and chronic swelling, particularly in the limbs. Unfortunately, proper treatment is not only expensive, it is also hard to acquire because so few medical professionals are knowledgeable in this field. Not one to sit around and complain without working to help find a solution, Brittany founded Brylan’s Feat Foundation to help children fighting lymphedema receive this often inaccessible treatment.
Photos care of Brittany Williams
The daughter and granddaughter respectively of lifelong activist Sarah B. Durkee, Becca Durkee and Ruby Capurro-Durkee have been speaking up and taking action to support both their local and worldwide communities their entire lives. Most recently, they took courageous, compassionate action during the recent devastating fires in Northern California, which devoured 153,336 acres of land; killed 88 people (with 203 people still missing and unaccounted for); destroyed 13,972 residences; obliterated the entire town of Paradise; and took the lives of countless wildlife and domesticated animals. Becca and Ruby found out what help was needed, circled the wagons among their family and friends, and turned their deep concern into direct action.
Photos care of Ray Chavez - Enterprise-Record, Bay Area News Group
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
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
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
During a neighborhood meeting last year, Victoria heard someone mention that a local non-profit called Start-Up Kids' Club sought volunteers to teach entrepreneurship to children in the Austin area. Thinking about how her husband Shawn’s entrepreneurship had benefited their family, and pondering how beneficial learning entrepreneurial skills at a young age might be, Victoria arranged to meet with Start-Up Kids' Club’s founder Amber Waken. Well, that was it. After meeting with Amber, Victoria and Shawn were hooked and decided they wanted to help in any way they could.
Photos care of Victoria Waite
https://www.cmtausa.org/The Internet can be a sort of Alice-in-Wonderland kind of space. Beautiful wonders followed or superseded by sheer horrors. For example, when we notice that we or our loved ones are experiencing certain symptoms, we can research them online and find links to all sorts of pages, but discerning whether the information provided on those pages is reliable or unreliable is another story. It takes a special kind of Internet literacy and a bit of luck to know which information is accurate and steeped in authentic evidence and which is… well… fake. For Tau and Eoin, as for many other parents of children who receive confusing and sometimes frightening medical diagnoses, the Internet turned out to be the tool that connected them with their greatest source of education and support
Photos care of Tau O'Sullivan
Tina and Jason’s daughter Violet was only 21 months old when she got an E. coli infection, which developed into something called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome and shut down Violet’s kidneys, causing her to have strokes. “Overnight, our lives changed,” Tina shares. Today, five-year-old Violet continues to suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD) and will one day during her childhood need a kidney transplant.
Photos care of Tina Walde
After bursting on the scene at only 26 weeks, Burke had Stage 3 Bilateral IVH (brain bleeds) which resulted in a cerebral palsy diagnosis at about 12 months of age. When he was 18 months old, his mom Melissa knew she wanted him to start hippotherapy, and TherAplay was the only group in their city that would work with kids as young as Burke. Melissa and Burke have since had such remarkably positive experiences with their occupational and physical therapist teams that they decided to become PLAE-it-forward ambassadors in support of TherAplay.
Photos care of Melissa French