Our calendar is filling by the minute with field trips, parties and special ceremonies, and permission slips and final artwork are spilling from the girls’ folders and backpacks. It’s clear… the end of school is near!
Culmination and celebration are what May is all about, and we were thrilled to share in a very special night last week, as our family attended Nora Night – an evening event commemorating our daughter’s first year as a participant in The Nora Project. Here’s a glimpse into the party!
The Nora Project aims to foster friendships among children of all abilities. (Here’s a post about our first play date.) Since the fall, our eldest (who has Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome) has drawn closer in friendship to the student ambassadors at our local elementary school. Through shared stories, games and fun, students have gotten an opportunity to get to know Elsa personally and dynamically.
Nora Night was such a beautiful evening! Students planned every amazing detail. From lovely welcome signage and a red carpet greeting, to activities, creative photo booths, a slideshow and a special song, the students created an atmosphere of love and joy. It was hard for me to see Elsa’s reaction during the event because I was often behind her. This photo warms my heart so much!
To say that The Nora Project has had an impact is an understatement. I vividly remember Elsa’s first trip to the elementary school last year, before The Nora Project began. Elsa was home sick and had to come along for the ride as we dropped off Miss C at kindergarten. There were a lot of stares and dropped jaws when we rolled through the parking lot. They simply didn’t know her… yet.
Now, children come up and say hello to Elsa - all the time. Not only at school, but also at church, at the park, at the grocery store, at the library, and on and on. A number of parents have shared with me that their families talk about The Nora Project around the dinner table. And one of Elsa’s new Nora friends chose to miss the first half of his baseball game to be at Nora Night. The program is making a real difference in our lives and the lives of Elsa’s new friends.
The other day, when I was picking up Miss C from school, I watched as a big kid leaned down to ask: “Hey, is your sister Elsa Schulte?” It was just the cutest and the coolest thing.
Like all parents, I want my daughters to feel special and be seen as special. But I have to be on guard about that. That’s not what kids want. They want to be part of the group. To have friends. To share in the adventures of being a kid. So while I most certainly reveled in my daughter’s moment in the spotlight last week, what I’m really most grateful for is that The Nora Project creates a loving, open place for children to get to know our girl, and for her to get to know them. I can’t wait to see what next year will bring, as these relationships grow and deepen through this initiative.
(PS: A big thanks to Elsa’s grandmas, Zannie and Grammy, for traveling far to be a part of the party! And an enormous thank you to the children who planned Nora Night! You are visionaries, great leaders and great friends!)