Aerie caught up with #AerieREAL Changemaker Alesha Thomas to talk about the Adaptive Parent Project and to hear how the organization’s advocacy is going! 

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I’m making REAL change with my organization that advocates for inclusion and acceptance + empowers parents with all types of disabilities.

Alesha Thomas

I started Adaptive Parent Project to provide resources and support for parents with disabilities worldwide. @adaptiveparentproject

Q: What is your best memory of working within your community as a Changemaker?

A: I first connected with Dani Izze (@daniizze/@danistwinsfilm), a quadriplegic mother of now two-year-old twins girls, over instagram. Even though Dani I have different disabilities, I instantly felt a connection with her as a fellow disabled mother. We begin talking and she asked me about the Gertie Crib (@gertiecrib) I use for my son Nolan. A few weeks later, we set up a video chat so that she could see how Nolan’s crib works and determine if it would be the appropriate crib for her to use with her girls, as these cribs are not in stores. After chatting with me, she determined that the Gertie Crib would work for her and shortly after she sent me a video of her being able to put one of her twins to bed independently. I was filled joy that I could help another disabled mother find the best adaptive solution to a daily task that she was struggling with. Fast forward several months and we were able to meet in person which was an incredible experience to be able to see each other face to face and wheel to wheel as we live on opposite ends of the United States.

This year I’ve accomplished becoming a registered nonprofit organization as well as starting to build an online all inclusive resource for parents with disabilities

Alesha Thomas

Q: As an AerieREAL Changemaker, what are you most proud of?

A: I started this organization because when I was pregnant with my son, Nolan, there were very few resources for parents with disabilities and there was a lack of representation of disabled parents literally everywhere I looked. As I navigated the first year of motherhood, I often felt isolated because I didn’t have other disabled parents to reach out to that could relate to what I was going through. I quickly realized that there were so many of us out there that felt the same way. This had to change and I was going to make it my mission be the one to initiate it. Parents with disabilities, need and deserve a space that will provide them with resources and connections to be successful and empowered to navigate parenthood. Even as a little girl, I always knew I wanted to be a mom someday but I was unsure of what that would look like because I have cerebral palsy. I want to make sure that disabled children growing up know that if they decide to become a parent in adulthood, there will be a community waiting to embrace and empower them whenever they decide to start that journey.

I hope to change and expand resources for parents and other adults with disabilities even more.

Alesha Thomas

Q: As a representative of Aerie brand and your amazing act of change, what do you want the world to know?

A: I want people to know that people with all types of disabilities can be and are incredible parents. I often find myself telling people that a person’s ability to walk, see, hear etc. does not define one’s ability to parent. Children of disabled parents often learn concepts such as empathy and kindness earlier than other children because they are exposed to disability from day one.

I’m most excited about launching our website in the next several weeks as a place to serve as an all inclusive resource for parents with disabilities and other adults with disabilities that are often given very few resources for navigating adulthood with a disability when they age out of pediatric services between the ages of 18 and 21 years old.

Alesha Thomas

Our website will be live by mid-August and we are so excited to share it. In the meantime, please follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel @adaptiveparentproject

It is my hope that people reading this will realize no matter what their age or ability, change can start with one person and the community around you can help you grow. Don’t be afraid to take chances and develop your ideas because they may lead to opportunities bigger than you ever imagined.

How about you, Aerie fam? How are you making change in your communities? Let us know in the comments below.

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