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Challenge: Rise!

How Glitter Changed My View of Disability

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When my daughter was born, I knew she would send me on a new path as a parent but I never knew how it would involve a lot of unicorns and sparkles.

My daughter, Jordan, was born with one hand. I noticed it first when she was born. No one in the room believed me until I brought it up a second time. No one noticed her limb difference in the one ultrasound we did at 20 weeks. When the doctor confirmed she was okay, my husband and I were at peace. One hand wasn't going to stop this kid from anything. She was perfect.

How right we were.

I started documenting my experience raising now 11-year-old Jordan and her older brother, 15-year-old Cameron, on a site I named, Born Just Right. I needed to document the journey I was taking as I sought out the right services for my child. Jordan had challenges as a baby. But we helped her with a lot of physical and occupational therapy and the addition of prosthetics to help build and maintain muscle strength. All of those years of "helper arm" building set Jordan on a path I didn't realize she was traveling - she was learning design concepts. Plus, she has a lot of opinions. She knows what kind of fits she likes and doesn't like when it comes to helper arms. That also translated outside of prosthetics to fashion, entertainment and just about anything else. Jordan has strong opinions and a strong attitude.

Fast forward to a year ago when Jordan and I were invited to San Francisco to take part in an event called Supehero Cyborg. Jordan was given the chance to work with designers and learn how to dream up a prosthetic arm that could turn her into a superhero. Jordan didn't go an easy route. She wasn't interested in building an arm that had a hand on it. No, she wanted an arm that could shoot glitter. Thanks to KIDmob and Autodesk, Jordan was sent back home with a connection to a design partner after the week-long camp concluded. She met weekly with her partner over Google Hangouts where they dreamt up a brand new version of a helper arm. Jordan named the work, Project Unicorn. With the help of her design partner, Sam Hobish, Jordan created an arm in the shape of a unicorn horn that shoots glitter with the help of compressed air. It's messy and only allowed outside when she's shooting. But it brings so many smiles. We had no idea how happy it could make people. Yes, glitter is messy. But watching a huge cloud of glitter shoot out, is so fun. As Jordan says, "You can never be sad with sparkles." Seeing the confidence in Jordan's eye as she grows as a designer is a gift.

Thanks to this amazing experience, Jordan and I are on a quest to rise even higher. Jordan hopes more kids in the disability world can have access to design skills. I hope I can help empower more parents and guardians to learn how to be "design advocates." Together, we hope more organizations and businesses will want to work with kids like Jordan who understand design differently. That's why we have turned our blog into a nonprofit! We are currently growing partnerships and opportunities to spread our work even more people. Jordan got to pitch her invention to the whole Shark Tank while visiting The Rachael Ray Show. She also got to do a TEDx talk and has a chance to speak while Project Unicorn is on display at an international design expo in Canada. Jordan and I recently signed with literary agents to write books about our experiences! (Jordan also has a fictional book series she really wants to launch.) It's all very exciting and we can't wait to help change even more lives!

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