PROGRAMS
WAYS TO HELP
MISSION
PRESS
BLOG
It's Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day
Building community is core to the WAWOS ethos. When the first walkercape was donated just over 3 years ago, the goal was for it to be about more than giving a cape...I wanted to spark conversations. To create connections. And to encourage others to look beyond an assistive device...
Inclusion Revolution
Necessity is the mother of invention. I remember that phrase being on a loop in my head when I was preparing to launch this nonprofit. I'd return to it, repeating it over and over, as I completed bylaws, applied for charitable status and reached out to prospective board members....
Spark Inclusion from your home office
As so many of us are still sporting the "WFH Mullet" (business on top, party on the bottom), here's an easy way to show support for inclusion and help get the WAWOS word out. Download this virtual background and put it in the rotation for your meetings. Tell colleagues and friends...
Lila's Fundraiser for WAWOS
Hi! My name is Lila Hawks. I'm a 14 year old artist living in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. My friend, Sofia, was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when we were in preschool. At the time, I didn’t really notice or understand what that meant. She has always been one of the...
2020 WAWOS Wishes recipients
Accessible recreation is more than just a means for a child with a physical difference to get out -- it's a way for them IN to a world of adventure. It's an invitation to participate, to play, to explore their interests and have opportunities for discovery, community and connection....
Shine Your Light
Last November, I wrote this blog post highlighting Menlo-Atherton High School teen, Stella Kaval, and the work she was doing to shift perception of disability and promote a better understanding about the importance of inclusion. Stella, a life-long Girl Scout, began by challenging...
Thanksgiving Placecards
Like many families this year, our little tribe of 3 will be celebrating Thanksgiving at-home on our own. There will be plenty of video calls to family and friends, and we'll still make a feast with all the fixings! Our tree is up and decorated...the earliest it has ever been...and...
WAWOS Wishes: nominate a group today
This year has challenged all of us to move through tough moments; to find purpose, promise and to persevere. WAWOS believes in the power of community and in the importance of access to adventure for all. Last year, we launched WAWOS Wishes, a directed gift program that awards...
Teaching Inclusion and Empathy
September is back-to-school time and many classrooms have shifted to a distance learning model. This still provides opportunities to talk to students about inclusion and empathy, which are core to the WAWOS mission. We believe in embracing difference and seeing the beauty in uniqueness....
Creativity in cooking
Sheltering in place, with every meal prepared at home, has led to more than just lots of dishes (so...many....dishes!!) It's been a great opportunity to encourage my daughter Sofia's interest in cooking. Trying out recipes has always been a joy for her, but she hasn't always trusted...
Making masks for our community
In the midst of this global health crisis, the constant news cycle of 'unprecedented' and 'unknown' language can be very overwhelming for kids -- and for adults. This is a serious situation with serious consequences, but there is still space for positivity and connectedness. There...
VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: Kevin Peruch
At the recent "Sew For Service" event with Williams-Sonoma Inc., WAWOS Founder Jacquie Robison had the privilege of meeting Kevin Peruch. As Jacquie opened up about her family's story, Kevin found a quiet moment to share a little of his. It's a warm and powerful perspective about...
Never without hope
What does it feel like to have a physical difference? To have others look at your outside self and make assumptions about who you are, how you are or what you're capable of ? In the early years after Sofia's diagnosis, anyone who only knew me through Facebook updates would not...
Comparison is the thief of joy
As a child, my parents spoke often about personal responsibility. Their number one message was that each of us has unique talents and gifts, and that we owe it to ourselves -- and to the world -- to develop those gifts. To unwrap them and use them. To put them into practice to...
My theology of Inclusion
When I talk about inclusion, I mean acceptance. And when I talk about acceptance, I mean celebration. When I say celebration, I mean open-hearted. When I say open-hearted, I mean kindness. When I say kindness, I mean strength. When I say be strong, I also mean vulnerable. When...
2019 WAWOS Wishes Recipients
Enjoying a playground, riding a horse, surfing a wave and skiing the slopes are just some of the adventures that amazing nonprofits across the country are making accessible for kids with physical differences and delays. My daughter, who has mild CP, has been skiing since she was...
Holiday Sparkle
Creating this little wreath decoration to hang on a door handle made for a few hours of festive fun and is a terrific fine motor skills activity. It doesn't take much $ or prep and you likely have some of the materials in a craft box or in a drawer of odds and ends (c'mon, we...
Ability All, an accessibility app
"How would you feel if, when someone met you for the first time, all they saw was your walker or wheelchair? They didn't see that you love ombre nail polish or that your favorite book is Harry Potter? Instead, all they see is your disability -- and oftentimes they look away, unsure...
WAWOS turns 2!!
On October 10, WAWOS celebrated its second birthday, and I spent time reflecting on the activity and the impact we've made together over the past two years. I looked through notes, reviewed minutes from board meetings and checked out photos from our inclusive mini-runway show...
VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: Susie Tallman
Celebrating children is something this volunteer knows a lot about. Susie Tallman (Yarbrough), Founder of Rock Me Baby Records, is an accomplished singer whose just-released album, Spanish Songs for Children Learning Spanish is being considered for a Grammy. Susie, her husband...
Where you start is not where you finish
The first time I touched my hands to my newborn daughter, I said, "she's just so tiny." My husband stood there with me; he had been in the delivery room during the emergency c-section to welcome her to the world and when the doctors took her from my belly, he was the one who saw...
VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: Carrie Inouye
In 2017, our nonprofit has given away 321 WAWOS Wear walker capes to kiddos who use an assistive device. That's almost 1 per day, and demand is growing. Keeping up with these requests is possible because of the generous, talented members of our sewing Guild. I'm delighted to shine...
An attitude of gratitude
Every Monday morning I have a little ritual I go through (well, after coffee, obviously...I mean, it's Monday). Before rousing Sofia out of bed and really barreling into the day, I jumpstart the week with a quick internal pep talk. I quietly tell myself "this week, I'm going to...
Habits of Mind
Northern California native Nick Farris is an articulate and bright student at Cal State East Bay. He loves spending time with friends and staying active -- hiking and working out are particular favorites. He's studying kinesiology with plans to become a physical therapist. Nick...
Show Up and Lift Up
This photo was taken on a recent morning as my 9 year-old daughter headed off to ballet lessons at DTC-San Francisco. She ended her lesson with her peers --- all neuro-typical kids --- with a tremendous sense of accomplishment and was fired up to create a list of poses to work...
Labor of Love
"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." - Martin Luther King Jr. It was just one week ago that I travelled to Toronto, Canada for WAWOS-related meetings and meet-ups. Over the course of the Labor Day weekend,...
VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: BEV DEARDEN
The time and talent our volunteers dedicate to creating personality-forward walker capes as part of our WAWOS Wear program is part of the magic that keeps our 100% volunteer non profit going. These capes are donated for free to amazing kiddos so that they can express their interests,...
Trial and Effort
Since Sofia's diagnosis, there are times when I feel like I'm on a constant treadmill to learn about Cerebral Palsy. I want to educate myself about the myriad treatments and therapies that are out there to find what might work best for our girl. No matter how many sites I find...
VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: PAM STRAKA
WAWOS is 100% volunteer-supported with a mission to celebrate children with Cerebral Palsy and related neurodevelopmental delays to promote inclusion and accessibility. Our flagship program is WAWOS Wear -- handmade walker capes that add some personality to assistive devices and...
In your own words
Meaningful. Motivating. Those are two words that capture the impact we want to have to change the conversation around children with a physical difference, and promote inclusion and accessibility. They're also the words I hope other people use when they receive a cape from our...
Mark your Calendar: KEENfit Field Day & Resource Fair
WAWOS is thrilled to have this amazing woman launch our guest post series. From time to time, we'll feature experts in all areas of pediatric rehab along with innovators in emerging modalities for otherly-abled children with the goal of educating, providing resources and growing...
My little teacher
Recently, we attended an amazing Easter egg hunt hosted by friends who get more done in a day than I can hope to get done in a week #LifeGoals Truly, these guys are amazing. They welcome families to their home. They hide 300+ eggs with treats inside. They address the more than...
Volunteer Spotlight: Sue L.
As a 100% volunteer-supported nonprofit, WAWOS depends on the skills of incredible people to grow our organization and share our mission. Our flagship program is WAWOS Wear; beautiful walker capes that are donated to pediatric rehab facilities, hospitals and groups that serve...
From Grief to Belief
(or, a Valentine to CP in gifs) Dear Cerebral Palsy, When I first met you, I didn’t like you. At all. I didn’t want to give you the time of day and I definitely didn’t want you hanging around my daughter. So, for the first few days after Sofia’s diagnosis, I pretended you didn’t...
Truth is bliss
I've been thinking about this photo since it showed up in my Facebook feed this morning. It was taken seven years ago, and Sofia was just about one and a half years old. At the time of this photo, she was not yet diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. That would come two weeks later....
The thing about dreams...
The thing about dreams... Call them dreams, goals, hopes, or aspirations, we all have them. They can be practical or fantastical, they can drive us with purpose as we set out to attain them, or haunt us with disappointment if we fail to realize them. Some of our most powerful...
A merry mishap
So, this happened. A week ago, I broke the big toe on my left foot by catching it on the bottom of my yoga pants and yanking it the wrong way. Yep. The bad toe puns and jokes have been pretty relentless since I admitted how this accident went down. Trending in my family: #NamasteOnTheCouch...
The joy of curiosity
Recently, WAWOS was contacted by a community of young girls and their leader, who are interested in sewing walker capes. They had learned about our non-profit and agreed they'd like to get involved. It was a joyful email to receive, but that was just the beginning of the joy....
Pick a card, any card
One of the ways I've found success in reinforcing exercises Sofia is working on in physical therapy is by putting together at-home activities for us to do together. I like to design games and put together projects that practice the new skill and help lock in the muscle memory....
It's Official
I'm beyond excited to share our big news ...WAWOS is now a 501(c)(3) corporation! WAWOS started quietly in 2014 as a place for me to share the at-home activities I put together to extend the work Sofia was doing in therapy. I was encouraged by members of her clinical team who...
Introducing WAWOS WEAR
I'm thrilled to share something new from WAWOS. It's a project I've been working on for a little bit, and I'm excited to send it out into the world. Introducing WAWOS WEAR Walker Capes. How did I get here? When Sofia was using a walker, I would take her to the park, the store...everywhere....
School of Rock
This picture of a very little "DJ Sofia" dropping beats and singing into the headset still makes me smile. She has always loved listening to tunes and her passion for song has already taught her some great lessons. Just before summer vacation, she came home and declared "I signed...
Yoga On and Zen Out
Sofia is navigating a little bit of a growth spurt right now and it's pretty fun. I love seeing her realize that she doesn't need a step stool to reach the sink and watch her as she delights in helping set the table because she can actually see what's in the cutlery drawer, rather...
Refill the Glass
A conversation I had with a friend recently may sound familiar to many of us with kids. My friend said "I'm just exhausted. They take take take." I nodded. I confessed to her that I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about the demands of children. Sure, Sofia has different...
Alphabet Art
"Let's make some letter pictures", is a frequent request around our place. This is a fun way to work on Sofia's pencil skills and grow her creativity. I simply print a letter on the page and she draws an animal or creates a scene that starts with that letter. Here is a recent...
Create a camp
Ahhh, summer. Blue skies...warm breezes... barbeque dinners. I love summer and the slowed-down pace of days. Sofia still has physical therapy, but there isn't the stress of managing a school pick-up and dashing across town to get to her appointment on time. There are also waaaay...
Thanks for nothing
About a week ago, I had Sofia along with me to do some errands. Characteristically, she was chatting away — sharing stream of consciousness thoughts (“I am spending a lot of time trying to figure out why hiccups go away when you get scared”) and commenting on her ideas for careers...
Star Wars Wisdom
Whether it is friends posting pics with their theatre tickets in hand, someone wearing one of the many options for logo’d merchandise, or a family member asking coyly “Can we talk about this movie yet?”, my social media feed has been flooded by posts about Star Wars: The Force...
Oneness, not Sameness
Recently, Sofia spent a fantastic afternoon with a bunch of friends. Want to peek at the promise of the next (next) generation? Just observe a group of six-year olds come together as a relatively new set of friends and figure each other out. Over the course of the afternoon, there...
Tiny Dancer
From the time she first discovered “Angelina Ballerina”, Sofia has loved to dance. As with any baby, her early dancing days looked a lot like bouncing around on the floor. As we learned her CP diagnosis, music and dance continued to play a huge role in her excitement to move....
A Balancing Act
MATERIALS ~ two jump ropes (or 4' length of rope) In May 2012, at almost three years old, Sofia began to use a reverse walker. This was a huge milestone for her and for us as a family. She had worked hard on stepping in physical therapy — typically with either someone holding...
Swinging for the fences
Jeremiah and I had our first four dates at Giants games. Baseball was part of our courtship and we fell in love over RBIs and garlic fries. We got engaged in eight months and were married six months after that. Sofia made an early appearance to our line-up 13 months later . I...
Sofia's Soundtrack
In “SIR DUKE”, Stevie Wonder sang Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand. With an equal opportunity, For all to sing, dance and clap their hands. What’s not to love about this sentiment? Music unifies and brings together — without reprisal or judgement....
Work hard. Play hard.
“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’ve always liked this quote and now, as a parent, I think about how it applies to Sofia. We all know kids are excited about the world around them and their place in it. Sofia is no different. She’s curious and loves...
Monkey-see Monkey-do
How are we going to approach activities and outings as a family? That was one of the very early conversations Jeremiah and I had after Sofia’s diagnosis. It ended up being a brief discussion, as we quickly agreed that we would bring her everywhere and she would enjoy the same...
Fingerprint Artwork
MATERIALS ~ paper ~ stamp pad/assorted colors ~ marker The idea for this craft came from a comment Sofia made after wiping off her hands following a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs (one of her favorites!). As she was getting the last dabs of sauce off her hands, she noticed...
Beyond Measure
Milestones. Benchmarks. Firsts. I was armed with all the new parent knowledge I could get my hands on as I prepared myself for Sofia’s birth. But, the best laid plans and all that. Turns out there’s really not much of a playbook for the arrival of a 28-week premature daughter....
Spotting the unicorn
Peace. I find myself on a daily quest for the sweet sanctuary of peace. I’m not just talking about peace and quiet (although that sounds really, really good too), but just good ole peace. Peace of mind. The peace that comes from the absence of worry. And, let me tell you something...
X marks the spot
Since she was about three years old, one of Sofia’s favorite shows has been ‘Jake and the Neverland Pirates.’ She is inspired by the idea of discovery, working together as a team and treasure. Hey, the girl loves her bling! One morning at breakfast, she asked if she could watch...
Peacock Proud
MATERIALS ~ paper ~ marker or crayon It doesn’t get much easier than ‘trace your hand’ for a fun activity that develops Sofia’s fine motor skills — and her creative imagination. The first time we tried this, she was about 3.5 years old and needed quite a bit of help gripping the...
Drop the Mic!
The air in the house that morning was electric. Sofia was invited to her friend’s fourth birthday party and it was being celebrated at a local gymnastics studio. Some of the other children in her preschool class took lessons there, so she had heard all about the tumbling and jumping...
Spray Bottle Splashdown!
MATERIALS ~ Foam numbers, shapes or letters ~ Spray bottle ~ Window or sliding doors One afternoon, when Sofia was a little over four years old, she and I were hanging out upstairs. We have a small deck and both of us love the fresh air and the ‘outside time’ it allows. So, there...
Always Listening
The diagnosis of our daughter with CP came less than a month after I had given my notice at the office. I had returned to work following maternity leave and I enjoyed the intensity and contribution I made at the technology company where I worked. But, I did feel that push and...
Gone Fishing
MATERIALS ~ construction paper ~ safety scissors ~ marker ~ plastic container or bowl ~ small chip clip or clothespin One afternoon, our daughter sat contentedly as she watched “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2″ (again). She was joyfully calling out the names of the various...
Low mess 'sand' box
MATERIALS ~ rice ~ cookie sheet ~ small cooking utensils (spoon, measuring cup) ~ items that can be treasure to find (wine charms were handy for me…) Tapping into the creativity of my inner child has been a corollary of welcoming our daughter into our lives. Seeing how certain...
Eatable Exercises
MATERIALS ~ contents of your fridge ~ your dinner menu ~ a little advance planning (don’t worry … not too much!) Sofia’s formal diagnosis is spastic diplegia, which in brief means it impacts her legs. There is some involvement in her left hand, and they suppose this could be because...
The Whole Self
About a week after we first learned of Sofia’s diagnosis, I received a call from her pediatrician. She had been advised of the test outcome by the hospital and had called to schedule a follow-up visit. I was grateful for the outreach and went to the appointment with my daughter,...
Bug Stomp
MATERIALS ~ sheet of paper/light floor ~ marker ~ roll of scotch tape We’ve had the biggest successes creating adventures for our daughter that match her interests and her curiosity. A super easy one was inspired by her fascination with bugs and insects. We did some research together...
Playing with Pennies
MATERIALS ~ silly putty ~ assorted coins ~ small container with lid ~ scissors It was one of those days. I had planned a Saturday of exploring and digging in the sand at our neighborhood park, but awoke to a downpour and watched those plans get rained out. Well, necessity is the...
Stop and smell the flowers
MATERIALS ~ popsicle sticks ~ flower stickers ~ small berry baskets ~ duct tape We made this a two-day adventure and started by making the flowers themselves. It was a fun way to work on fine motor skills while talking about the colors we liked and what kind of bouquet we were...
Keep Calm and Grin On!
Over the course of the last three years, we’ve been on the receiving end of a number of curious glimpses and bewildered looks. It could be a sideways glance from someone tracking our daughter’s progress with her walker — or an overt stare when they caught sight of her with her...
What are you working on?
I had an idea to keep our daughter focused on specific new tasks her physical therapist felt she was ready to try. One of the overwhelming things about cerebral palsy is that there are so many seemingly ‘easy’ tasks that take a lot of energy and effort for the child to work out....
Pulling focus
I’m no photographer…the truth is that most of my photos are taken with my cellphone. But, I admire the work of many photographers — both in print and film. And, I’ve always been intrigued by the role of the focus puller. Often called ‘1st assistant camera’, it’s the member of...
Iceberg, dead ahead
Lots has been written about how people use Facebook and Twitter to post the version of their life they want people to see — the one that leaves others whistling softly under their breath — sometimes with delight and sometimes with envy — to see their friend living such a charmed...