I strongly believe in inclusion and the awesomeness of ALL kids.
Kids living with serious illnesses or physical or intellectual challenges often face additional challenges from other kids and even adults. It is not unusual for people simply to not understand the condition. As a result, reactions range from ignoring to staring to bullying. One mom used a difficult, traumatic circumstance as inspiration for teaching kids about inclusion. All kids can play. All kids can dream. All kids want to be included.
Elizabeth Gerlach describes her son, Benjamin, as a child who “loved being outside with the sun in his face and the wind in his hair.” He loved “lights, toys, movement, noises, his preschool class, his brother and sister, and his mommy and daddy.”
Ben also had cerebral palsy and epilepsy. I intentionally chose not to mention this first because although they are a part of Ben’s story, his medical conditions did not define him. He lived each day with a smile on his face and adventure on his mind.
After a two-year fight with multiple respiratory illnesses, Benjamin lost his battle on May 2, 2016.
Elizabeth wrote two books dedicated to Benjamin. In 2018 she published Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach. In this children’s picture book, Elizabeth takes you along with Ben as he uses his imagination to create a series of amazing adventures on the beach with his family. Ben’s story shows children that all people can play and dream.
Elizabeth’s second book is scheduled for release this year. It is called, Ben’s Adventures: Day at the Circus. In this second Ben’s Adventures installment, Ben is enjoying a day at school. He loves the sights and sounds that he experiences throughout his day at school so much that he imagines that his classroom is a circus!
Elizabeth launched a Kickstarter campaign for Ben’s Adventures: Day at the Circus. To learn more about Ben, Elizabeth, and the Ben’s Adventures series, check out the Kickstarter.