We are home and it feels good. We are coming down from the most amazing week that I am not even sure I can completely describe in words. Grace participated in the Infantino/Step 2 “Everybody Plays” advertising campaign in San Diego this past week. I love this campaign for so many reasons. It was created by a Mama who believes all children should play together. It is photographed by a Mama who is passionate about communicating the beauty of all children through her images and we were able to share San Diego with 50 families who believed in this campaign so strongly that some flew across the country to show not only their support but to share their child with the world. They too wanted to send the message that all children will play together if they are given the chance. (Insert a whole lotta tears…)
As we boarded the plane to go to San Diego I was not sure how the week would go. I would be meeting people I had created friendships with over social media and I would meet the blogger and author Kelle Hampton who has consistently spoken my heart for the last 3.5 years in relation to our journey with Grace. I was a nervous wreck. I was given the opportunity to photograph Kelle as she captured all these beautiful children and it was an honor. I left our hotel room on Wednesday morning with my Mom telling me I would be just fine. She could tell my stomach was in flip flops. I wasn’t sure what I would be walking in to but was beyond excited to be a small part of it.
The next 2 days were magical. It was awesome to watch the teams at Infantino and Step 2 work to make all the families feel comfortable and special. There was not a moment they were not confirming that everything was taken care of and asking if they could help in any way. As I watched Kelle work with the families and children my questions were completely answered. Anyone who knows me, knows what a fan I am of her writing and her images. I did not know her personally until this weekend and questioned how a person could be everything they write but I assure you she is and so much more. She is a lover of people and children and she had no problem sharing that love with every single person in the room.
Grace, Nella and Lainey meet via FaceTime!
When Grace came for her session Kelle immediately hugged her, took her by the hand and led her outside to the set. I was a proud Mama watching my girl play with Kelle and pose for the camera. She was completely comfortable. As the additional children came out they immediately played along like all little girls do. My heart melted. Everyone was playing and everyone was enjoying their special time. I am so thankful that Infantino / Step 2 and their staff understand that all children regardless of their ability play with toys, lots and lots of toys.
Through out the 3 days we were there kids were just that kids. No one cared what type of abilities your child had, they were just happy your child was there. We all gushed over babies and hugged Moms. No one had to make excuses for anything. Their children were celebrated and I am sure every Mama left with a full heart.
As I left the last day I was a hot mess. Tears were flowing and I could not help but express my gratitude to Colette Coskey, one of the master minds behind this campaign. I am so thankful that she had a vision to change the way they market their products and include all children. They are setting the bar high and I sure hope others catch on. Grace along with all the other 50 children are just that children who are beautifully unique in their own very special way.
I have been walking in circles since returning from California. At first I thought it was because of the time change but that was not it at all. I can not stop replaying our week. I am so proud that Grace and I were a small part of something so big. Something that WILL change perceptions and move our world forward. I left California with a huge happy heart.
I am ready to dive into the holidays and I plan to give thanks for all the wonderful people in our life and our community who work hard to give my sweet girl a fighting chance. We finished our weekend at the opening of our local Gigis Playhouse and my sons stood among quite a few families and said their dream for their sister is that she will become something great. She will become something great because of all the Moms and Dads who offer their talents to further her future and give her opportunity. That is all I could ever wish for.
If you too share my feelings then stop over to Infantino and Step2 and leave them a message. Thank them for thinking outside the box. Thank them for including everyone all the time. Don’t forget Kelle Hampton too! Let her know how much you appreciate her love of all children and her ability to capture that love in her images. We need to support and strengthen campaigns such as “Everybody Plays” to encourage other companies to do the same!