Over the Bridge We Go..

Over the Bridge We Go..

So many emotions run through my heart and my mind on our final Bridging Day at Sunflower Creative Arts, but this is the first of many bridges we will cross I’m sure. Sunflower has meant so many things to us since we first discovered this community.. this family.

For some, Sunflower is a safe haven. A space to go where no matter what else is wrong in the world, it can be made right, right here. On this safe playground ALL feelings are allowed, ALL opinions are respected, ALL people are welcome. When the world’s playground doesn’t seem fair, the lessons we all participate in daily at Seedlings have a way of making it much clearer and easier to understand. There aren’t any distractions, there won’t be any sugar-coating. All feelings are met with loving arms, listening ears, compassion and grace. My the things we can achieve with hope, kindness, and an open heart.

Sunflower Creative Arts

For others, Sunflower means a second chance. A chance at a childhood lost too soon, the remembrance of play for those who’ve forgotten. A safe place to land after the world has chewed you up, and spit you out. When dancing to someone else’s tune hasn’t yet worked for you, and you need to remember your own song. Here is where you go to realize what you’ve been missing, or rather, remember who you are.. Maybe you never knew yourself, but on this playground, it’s impossible to ignore.

Sunflower Creative Arts

For a select few, Sunflower is simple. It’s all you’ve ever known in your home life growing up, and you couldn’t see living any other way. You’ve seen what the world looks like, yet it doesn’t quite make sense since you already know how compassion and community truly work. It’s a way of life that is familiar, and necessary.

Sunflower Creative Arts

Sunflower has meant all of this and much more to me. The lessons we’ve learned here have shaped us as a family, and we will forever be indebted to the kindness that was shown to us. It reminded us how to live, and how to love. Now that we have these roots, it’s time to use our wings. We have the opportunity to spread this message of community, and bring it with us wherever we go. Using the skills we learned on this playground to change the world, one seed at a time.Sunflower Creative Arts

Well done Sunflower, you haven’t just prepared our family for Kindergarten, but prepared us for life. You prepared us to change the way people see the world.

Sunflower Creative Arts

Thank you.

Essentially yours,

Erika


Sunflower Creative Arts is located at 227 N Dixie Blvd in Delray Beach, FL. You can visit their website, or call them at (561) 501-6615.

Be The Change, Be The Match

Be The Change, Be The Match

This post was written in partnership with Be The Match.  Real patients like 11-year-old Kamryn are currently searching for a life-saving marrow donor. Learn more and sign up for the Be The Match Registry® at www.join4kami.org.

There is no bond like that of a parent and child. From the moment they are born, the overwhelming love is unmatched by any other experience in life. We do our best from the very start to ensure we are doing our best to keep them from harm, keep them healthy, and protect them at all costs. I can’t begin to imagine what it must feel like to not be able to protect them from a debilitating disease that is attacking their body. We count our blessings each day that we have two healthy and active boys. Although, that just doesn’t feel like enough at times.

Essentially Erika

I remember being a young teenager and feeling helpless, watching the doctors scour our family members asking for blood. My dad was involved in an accident, and desperately needed transfusions. At the time, I didn’t know my blood type, and I was unaware that I was a match for his rare O-Negative blood type. This has always been a deep regret of mine, and has always effected me. My father would eventually succumb to his injuries, and our lives were forever changed.

Adolescence

The moment I turned eighteen, I made a few very important adult decisions. One of those key decisions was to donate blood as quickly as I could. I wound up donating platelets as well. Seeing the need for my blood type and having been through my own experience with my father, I began to dive more deeply into donating in different ways. Changing the lives of real patient’s like 11-year-old Kamryn, suddenly became a possibility.

Joining the marrow transplant donor list was one of the most profound decisions I could make as an adult. Be The Match makes is possible for donors like myself can have a profound life-changing effect on people’s lives like young Kamryn. Marrow transplants can provide life-saving treatment for over seventy diseases. It may be hard to believe but most marrow transplant patients don’t have a match within their own family, and rely on organizations like Be The Match to help connect them with their donor match. While I am older now, I am glad I signed up when I was young. The younger a person, the healthier their marrow, which means they will more likely be a match for more patients, and change more lives.

Essentially Erika

Signing up is as simple as a three-second cheek swab to get you in the system and see if you are a match for anyone like Kamryn, who currently doesn’t have any match just yet. The procedure can be simple and painless, or require a bit of recovering in a few cases, a small price to pay for saving a young life,  like Kamryn’s. You can learn more about her story and sign up to join the registry at join4kami.org.

Essentially yours,

Erika

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

To Zoo, Or Not To Zoo?

To Zoo, Or Not To Zoo?

Growing up in New York, we often visited the Bronx Zoo. It’s a huge zoo that could take a full day to really see everything. We’d spend long hours walking through the different exhibits and learning all about the different species. As a kid growing up in the “concrete jungle”, it was the most interaction I had with nature and any kind of wildlife. It wasn’t until I was much older and had kids of my own that weighing in on zoo trips was really thought. To zoo, or not to zoo. That was the question.

Did I really want to give my kids the impression that animals came from or even worse belonged anywhere other than in their natural habitat? As an advocate for all wildlife, like many others, I believe that animals and their habitat should be respected and even preserved. I donate to causes and charities to help preserve these habitats and prevent extinction of many species. The connection I feel to nature is powerful, so my feeling behind this issue measures up just the same.

As a parent, I struggled with how to broach this issue with our kids. They have class trips to the zoo, friends who frequent the zoo. However, it’s important for me to express that animals do no come from the zoo, and in fact live in a much broader world that I wish they will spend the rest of their lives learning about. I needed to find a way to introduce this issue carefully and help them to truly understand the world around them.

A happy compromise I’ve discovered is contributing to organizations that act as a conservation society. Supporting your local conservation society can help house wildlife that are incapable of surviving in the wild, while educating patrons about their species and natural habitat. The AZA (Association of Zoo’s & Aquariums) / SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) is working closely with Stonyfield YoKids together on a mission to help save endangered species. As part of a year-long effort, Stonyfield will not only be contributing funds to field work but aiming to drive kids and their families to see animals and conservation projects first hand at zoos, aquariums, and on the ground where the research is happening.

By sponsoring the AZA’s efforts, Stonyfield is working towards supporting conservation efforts for 10 endangered species, including the African Penguin just in time for World Penguin Day on April 25th! In keeping with Stonyfield’s long time effort in conservation and sustainability, they will be featuring most of AZA’s SAFE species on their packaging all year-long so kid’s can collect all of the species.  Stonyfield YoKids will be offering a special on-pack offer to encourage families to visit any of the 131 participating AZA accredited member zoos and aquariums in their own communities.

From now to the end of September families who buy two specially-marked YoKids yogurt multipacks will receive a FREE kid’s admission to their local AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium when they also buy an adult ticket.  Stonyfield has long been a company with high standards using only organic, non-gmo ingredients in all of their kids yogurt. Most recently stepping it up with a sugar reduction across the line available in cups, squeezers and smoothies.

Check out this adorable video when kids were asked if a cow could save a penguin?

By encouraging more kids and families to visit their local participating zoo or aquarium and experience endangered species firsthand, Stonyfield hopes to inspire a lifelong appreciation of our planet and commitment to animal conservation in the next generation. We can’t wait to visit our local AZA SAFE accredited Zoo in Miami and share all of the wonderful details!

Essentially yours,

Erika

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