Speak Up for Kids—The Child Mind Institute


speak up for kids

As most of you know May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As we press on with May this health awareness month keeps finding ways to help spread mental health awareness. For instance, The Child Mind Institute has done just that.

The Child Mind Institute is an independent, national nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders. A team of medical professionals work every day to provide the best and the highest care to those children and their families who are struggling with a mental condition.

Of the 74.5 million children in the United States, an estimated 17.1 million have or have had a mental health disorder — more than the number of children with cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined. Half of all mental illness occurs before the age of 14, and 75 percent by the age of 24 (The Child Mind Institute).

The Child Mind Institute is driven to create brighter futures for children who suffer from a mental or learning disability. The three commitments are as followed:

    1. Give these children access to the best, most effective treatments when and where they need it most

      2.  Advance the science of the developing brain to improve diagnosis and treatment

    3. Provide useful, accurate information that empowers families and communities to get help

Each year the institute creates a theme for mental health month. This year it is “Speak Up for the Kids.” This campaign has several celebrities speaking about their own mental conditions and what they have done to overcome it and what they would tell their younger self.  Over the course of 31 days’ individuals have or will video tapped themselves and give advice and what has actually gotten them through some hard times.


Fun fact: I have a learning disability. Not many know this, but I thought I should share it. So many who suffer from a learning disability live normal and productive lives. They can do anything that someone who doesn’t have a disability can do.

Growing up I knew I wanted to go to college and work in a children’s hospital. I have known this since I was eight years old. Most recently be a Child Life Specialist in a children’s mental health hospital/unit. Having this goal in mind, I barreled though my studies as a student. My learning disability has really gotten me to where I am today. I have never given up on the dream that I set for myself all those years ago…and do not intend to.

During my college years, I met many who had a mental condition. Some were like mine a learning disability and some were more server, but we were all at college for one sole purpose. TO GET A GOOD EDUCATION and to graduate with the degree at which we all sought. I have successfully earned my Associate’s in Child Development and I work vigorously to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in Family and Consumer Sciences with concentrations in: Child Development, Child Life, Family Studies and a minor in Psychology. All I have left to complete my studies is a child life internship. I also have written two book series and have been published.

I tell people that my disability doesn’t define me, but I define my disability. No matter what type of illness someone may have, whether it be a physical or a mental illness know that you can live a productive life. Just because you have some kind of condition does not mean you have to let it take over. Also, remember that you are not alone. There are other’s out there—celebrities that have mental conditions like you and that they are not ashamed of who they are:

  • Emma Stone
  • Michael Phelps
  • Carrie Fisher
  • Vivien Leigh
  • Howie Mandell
  • Jay Leno
  • Patty Duke

Just to name a few. Know that you are not alone.  You are an overcomer and you can face anything that life throws at you.

Below you will find a link to the child mind institute:


Until next time!


May is Mental Health Awareness Month!




“Bipolar Disorder can be a great teacher. It’s a challenge, but it can set you up to be able to do almost anything else in your life.”

                                                                              — Carrie Fisher

May is national mental health awareness month. Yay! (says the girl who wants to be a child life specialist in a children’s mental health hospital/ unit someday). I think it is great that mental health conditions are being recognized. We always talk about cancer and what we can do to prevent it or donate money so we can find a cure. While this is good, I think that it is important to help find a cure for mental conditions as well.

Mental Health Awareness Month (also referred to as “Mental Health Month”) has been observed in May in the United States since 1949, reaching millions of people in the United States through the media, local events, and screenings.

World Health Organization (WHO) says that 1 in 4 people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological conditions at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

Treatments are available, but nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help from a health professional. Those who suffer from a mental health condition need to have a proper coping technique to go along with their treatment. They need to have a support system and take proper medication.

Not only do adults suffer from mental conditions, but children do as well. Nearly 5 million children in the U.S. have some type of serious mental illness. In any given year, 20% of American children will be diagnosed with a mental illness (WebMD). I believe that a child’s illness doesn’t define them, but they define themselves.

Do you know someone who has a mental condition and needs help? Urge them to seek help and show them support during the tough times. Show them you care by being there for them during the good and bad times.

Until next time!

A Little Wish…

Close your eyes and make a wish…

We all have made wishes on birthday candles, wishbones, on 11:11 A.M./P.M and even blown dandelions. We all have made a wish on something during our lives, but more importantly we made them when we were young. Children believe in pixie dust, happily ever after and believe their dreams will come true.

Every child has done this very thing and made bigger than life wishes. But what about those who are hospitalized with a cancer or some other chronic illness? Those children deserve to hold on tight to a dandelion and blow those tiny seeds away with their wish on every seed.

Little WishLittle Wish Foundation is a nonprofit organization started by Liz Niemiec in the memory of her friend Max Olson. At four years old Max was diagnosed with Wilm’s Tumor, a rare kidney cancer. In Dec. of 2007 he lost his two and a half year battle. Before he died Max had one little wish and that was a puppy. His parents bought him the puppy and he named it Chewy. Liz saw how happy this little gift made her friend and she wondered how that would make other children who suffered from cancer feel. Liz decided to make Little Wish Foundation.

Little Wish Foundation grants children who suffer from cancer a gift up to $800. Some children have wished for Ipads, shopping sprees and some have even asked for play sets and ride on toys. No wish seems too small for Little Wish Foundation.

Currently Little Wish Foundation are at the following Pediatric Oncology Units:


  • Peyton Manning’s Children’s Hospital

Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Riley Hospital for Children 

Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Riley North Hospital

Carmel, Indiana

  • Rush Children’s Hospital

Chicago, Illinois

  • Lutheran Children’s Hospital

Fort Wayne, Indiana

  • Lurie Children’s Hospital

Chicago, Illinois

  • Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital

Nashville, Tennessee

  • Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Phoenix, Arizona

  • Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford

Palo Alto, California

  • Kosair Children’s Hospital

Louisville, Kentucky

  • South Bend Memorial Children’s Hospital

South Bend, Indiana

  • UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital

Los Angeles, California

  • Seattle Children’s Hospital

Seattle, Washington


If you know a child who has cancer and would enjoy a wish granted, please visit the website listed below.



A segment done on the Today Show is also attached:

Until next time!



A Doll Just Like Me!

Normally I don’t post more then one blog post per month (except with the exception of child life month), but I feel as though I have been called to share this particular blog post with you…

Growing up, I had many Barbie dolls and limitless accessories. Barbie’s magic dream house, hot pink Barbie car, shoes and clothes. I even had fake food for Barbie and Ken to eat on their spaghetti date night. While countless other little girls shared in the same toy; there were and still are girls who suffer from some kind of medical condition or disability who have to settle on just your average run of the mill doll.

What about these girls? The one’s who are suffering from hearing loss, diabetes, have a prosthetic leg due to an amputation and much more. How do these girls express themselves when they have no doll to do that with? No doll that is like them.

While this may seem to be a daunting blog post, trust me it isn’t. Good comes from it I promise.

Diabetes Care Kit 

What do the girls who have a disability engage with and play with while their peers play with a blonde hair blue eyed Barbie?

In January of 2016 American Girl began offering a diabetes care kit for their dolls. The kit includes an insulin pump, glucose tablets, and a blood sugar monitor. Since then this company has started to sell accessories like crutches, wheelchairs, service dogs, and allergy-free lunch packs complete with a miniature EpiPen.

Not only is American Girl selling accessories to fit those needs of girls who have medical conditions and disabilities, but Playmobil from Great Britain has also started to sell dolls with disabilities. Playmobil founder Rebecca Atkinson states that “There are 770,000 children in the U.K. with disabilities and more than 150 million children worldwide.”

Feeling as though children with disabilities had no toy to turn to, Atkinson and friends began to create doll accessories to reflect some of the disabilities that children face, starting with a tiny cochlear implant made from a button and clay. We all have to start somewhere. Right!?

Through it all American Girl Doll and Playmobil has given girls who have a disability the opportunity to express themselves through what they know best—play. Not only that, but this gives these girls the opportunity to engage with their peers and feel like one of the group once again; with a toy that is all about them.

 See link to video of a little girl receiving an American Girl doll who has a prosthetic just like she does! Little girl receives doll with a prosthetic leg just like her

(Thanks to A Step Ahead Prosthetic for creating the leg for the doll to match the girls).