The following is a release from Adventist Hinsdale Hospital:
Adventist Hinsdale Hospital is seeking families of children with special needs born at the hospital to take part in a special photo project.
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 19, the hospital will conduct a free photo shoot for the “I Am Who I Am” program. Photos of the children will be included in a piece of art to be unveiled at a reception planned at the hospital on Feb. 13.
Spots are available for 50 families to participate. Any and all children with special needs are welcome. If interested in participating in the photo project, please call(630) 856-7525 to reserve a space and time on Jan. 19.
I Am Who I Am is a program started by Holly Simon, whose son Nathaniel was born with Down Syndrome. When her son was born, she said, the doctors and nurses with her at the hospital apologized. This left a dark cloud hanging over everything.
“We’ve begun by trying to erase the sorrys in the delivery room by educating nurses and doctors, family and friends,” Simon said. “The first thing parents need to hear is ‘Congratulations,’ not ‘I’m sorry.’”
I Am Who I Am is designed to make people more aware of how they treat all children, regardless of whether they have special needs, said Chris Martin, clinical coordinator in Labor and Delivery at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital.
“We want to be able to treat these special patients with the same respect and dignity we would any other patient,” Martin said.
At some point or another, every family will be touched by a child with special needs, Simon said. Every child’s birth should be a celebration.
“It’s a super simple message, and yet it’s so profound that it leaps to every child and adult,” Simon said. “Accept me for who I am, and with that acceptance will come every other gift – the love, the nurture, the future.”
As a part of this awareness effort, the hospital plans to start giving out blankets to any babies born with special needs that say, “I Am Who I Am.”
“Students at the Ray Graham School will be doing all the silk-screening on the blankets,” Martin said. “So it’s children with special needs kids helping other children with special needs.”
The Ray Graham Training Center High School, located in Chicago, works with a variety of students who have educational, physical and emotional needs.
Once the photos are taken, Martin said the hospital plans to work with a local artisan to etch those photos onto tin sheets. Those will be hung and displayed at the hospital.