Cammy Can visits Oriole Park School {Gigi’s Joy Photography: Wisconsin Special Needs Photographer}

This is Cammy.

Gigi's Joy Photography: Union Grove Special Needs Photographer Racine

Cammy is a six year old girl who loves to play games, adores her family, and is diagnosed with Rett Syndrome.
Rett Syndrome is a rare non-genetic, neurological disorder. This means that Cammy cannot walk or talk like a typical six year old.  Cammy’s family launched “Cammy Can” to highlight the different things that she can do – and her diagnosis has given her family a platform and a cause in which they spread awareness.

This is Michelle (Mrs. Reynolds), her husband, Jack, and my godson, Owen.

Gigi's Joy Photography: Union Grove Special Needs Photographer Kenosha

Mrs. Reynolds has always been a fantastic teacher – but a couple of years ago – she kicked it up a notch. Her son Owen has some pretty severe developmental delays – and while he is a sweet, joyful boy – this has led to some heartache for the family with so many unknowns in Owen’s future.

There’s a quote from Mahatma Gandhi,  “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Mrs. Reynolds did just that. She developed a curriculum called “Choose Kind” which correlates with their 5th grade reading standards. Through novels, writing assignments, and a series of speakers – her students are learning to accept and appreciate differences in others. She is constantly finding examples to share with her students how one small act of kindness can create a ripple effect and spread to so many others.

In January, her student Emma, came to her with an idea.

Gigi's Joy Photography: Union Grove Special Needs Photographer Burlington

Emma told her about Cammy. Emma wanted to educate her classmates about Rett Syndrome, and raise money for Cammy’s family. Emma had a goal to raise $500, which would pay for two airline tickets to visit Cammy’s specialists in Boston. Emma and Mrs. Reynolds worked on a Powerpoint presentation and Emma used it to speak to other classes in her school. She made collection boxes and had a fundraiser thermometer to measure her goal. Thanks to the generosity of her classmates and teachers, she reached that goal in two weeks. She decided to continue to fundraise until Cammy’s visit to the school.

Gigi's Joy Photography: Union Grove Special Needs Photographer Waterford

On Thursday, April 2nd – Cammy visited Oriole Park School with her mother, Jackie. What began as something quite simple turned into a much larger affair, due to the ripples of kindness spread by so many. Students, teachers, and many parents showed their support with the fundraising, decorating, and organizing for this event.

Gigi's Joy Photography: Union Grove Special Needs Photographer Racine

The gym was transformed, and everyone was excited when the guest of honor arrived.

Gigi's Joy Photography: Union Grove Special Needs Photographer Milwaukee

A welcome was given by Mrs. Reynolds, and then Emma gave her own speech. Emma said, “This year our reading classes have focused around this important quote: ‘When given the choice between being right and being kind; choose kind.’ We learned about all the challenges that people can have and why it’s important to be kind to everyone we meet. I want kids to think about just saying hi when they walk down the hallway and how it can instantly make someone’s day better.”

Gigi's Joy Photography: Union Grove Special Needs Photographer Racine

Gigi's Joy Photography: Union Grove Special Needs Photographer Burlington

Cammy’s mother, Jackie then spoke to the assembly about different ways that they can be respectful and welcoming to those with special needs. She demonstrated how Cammy speaks through her computer – using her eyes to focus on the answer or phrase she wants to say. A highlight for the students was when Cammy showed just how “typical” of a six year old she really was. She was using her eyes to try to get to her games screen instead of answering the questions properly!

Gigi's Joy Photography: Union Grove Special Needs Photographer Waterford

Gigi's Joy Photography: Union Grove Special Needs Photographer Burlington

The assembly ended with a little presentation. Emma and a group of students who had made significant donations from their own piggy banks and birthday money, presented a check for $2,500 to Cammy and her mother to use for Cammy’s travel and medical expenses.

Gigi's Joy Photography: Union Grove Special Needs Photographer MilwaukeeGigi's Joy Photography: Union Grove Special Needs Photographer Racine

This gym full of people… It’s the result of one small act of kindness.

Gigi's Joy Photography: Union Grove Special Needs Photographer Racine

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

-Margaret Mead

 ***

Some links:

Cammy Can Facebook page

Cammy Can family blog

“Just Say Hi” presentation at Oriole Park with Mary Cate

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