The last year has been an interesting one for the Super Power Baby Project. I (Rachel) have been speaking around NZ and Australia to Health Professionals across different specialities, and the message encouraging the use of positive language has been embraced with open minds and hearts. This is really exciting as this is the heart of the project, for people to use language that reflects a wider vision of humanity.
I wrapped up my wedding and portrait photography business at the start of the year in order to focus exclusively on the concept of open hearted language in the health sector. I am enrolled in Thought Leadership Business School and am building a practice out of training, mentoring, speaking and writing more about this issue.
Sam and I separated in 2016, on loving, mutual and kind terms. I moved to Perth in February and we keep in touch regularly.
There are still approximately 400 books left in this print run and the aim is to have them all in homes, schools and health clinics all over the world by the end of 2017. I have some really exciting presentations coming up, and my goal for the next year is to get stuck into writing another book. I am really fascinated by the language used at diagnosis and beyond, and how this affects the journey of a parent as they navigate a life they didn't imagine. So it's all a bit up in the air at the moment, but things are moving forward in Super Power Baby Project land, and it is all good.
We'd like to introduce you all to an amazing human. Her name is Tessa and she is the creator of The One in A Million Baby blog and podcast. Tessa is helping and supporting parents all over the world through her powerfully honest and exceptionally written blog about the life and loss of her beautiful daughter Eva. Tessa tells stories of parents who find themselves as the one in a hundred, thousand, or even million, experiencing life as they never imagined. We am beyond humbled and proud to have been featured on The One in a Million Baby podcast. You can have a listen here.
3 December. Word Disability Day. New Zealand celebrated its people who live with disability... and it was incredible. Super Power Baby Project was very lucky to be at the 8th Attitude Awards held in Auckland. It was an overwhelmingly wonderful event. The clear message from the evening we would like to share is that while it can often feel isolating, battling for access and equality for loved ones, there is huge support and goodwill in our community. At the Attitude Awards this came together in a night of celebration and love.
It is just one night, but it filled us with hope and happiness that people with super powers are valued. The evening powerfully highlighted that there are artists, sports people, employees and more making a difference in their communities and throughout the world. Check out the finalists videos to get a feel for this. Also, look up Gary Williams - WOW - this New Zealander really has changed the world. Gary's acceptance speech for being inducted into the Attitude Hall of Fame was probably the highlight of the night. We wish all of the super power families could have been there to soak up the goodness.
Hopefully the energy and love from the event will spread far and wide.
The Super Power Baby Project has had many many supporters. We want share with you the encouragement we received along with the 'Making a Difference' award. One of the judges told us "You must carry on" because "while the AttitudeLive community were making huge headway on shifting attitudes, the Super Power Baby Project message is reaching places where they haven't been able to get to. Namely the medical profession." We can only conclude that this is because there are so many families who are championing their children's value and ability with medical professionals. So keep challenging the status quo and the language that limits potential.
It is one year to the day that the Super Power Baby Project book launched; a wonderful day.
Since then the book, and the children in it, have encouraged and given hope to families and communities further afield than those at the launch could have imaged. Just in the past week the project has been profiled in the Huffington Post and AOL, then on sites in Hungary and in Poland. A quick interweb translation shows that while each site has its own unique take on the images and story the common thread is one of beauty and ability.
So, with growing interest in the message of the book, it was absolutely incredible to see the announcement today that the book's author and photographer Rachel Callander has been nominated and is a finalist in the 2015 Attitude Awards for 'Making a Difference' held on December 3 - World Disability Day.
The Attitude Awards website tells us that they were "First held in 2008, the Attitude Awards are national awards that celebrate the achievements of people who live with disability. The aim of the event is to shine a spotlight on the disability sector, and draw attention to the one in four New Zealanders who live with disability. The awards salute artists, sportsmen and women, people with intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, mental health issues, young and old. We also pay tribute to the employers who work alongside people with disabilities to ensure they are able to contribute their skills to society and live full and satisfying lives." - which we think is just brilliant.
Article by Taylor Pittman, first published to Huffington Post
Every superhero has a power. Rachel Callander’s daughter, Evie, had many.
Evie, who was born with a rare chromosomal condition that caused developmental delays and left her unable to walk or talk, died when she was 2-and-a-half years old. Callander and her husband, Sam, called their daughter's unique response to particular environments a super power. It was as if her daughter experienced things differently, Callander explained.
"She would cry when she went through electric sliding doors or when we drove on roads where there were large electrical pylons," she wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. "It was as if she had an electromagnetic sensitivity that was unique to her."
From her incredible strength to the way she "expressed happiness with her whole body," the list of Evie’s powers goes on. Her special abilities motivated Callander, a photographer in New Zealand, to share the powers of other kids who have disabilities with the rest of the world. And so "Super Power Baby Project" was born.
"Super Power Baby Project" is a book featuring photos of kids with various chromosomal and genetic conditions. Each child has his or her own special ability.
"The kids in the book have super powers such as possessing emotional intelligence, being able to read people, incredible empathy, unconditional love, perseverance, kindness, joy, magnetism, being ambassadors of peace and having a ripple of influence that change people for the better," Callander said.
The book serves as a tribute to Evie. Callander traveled across New Zealand meeting the families and taking photos of the children featured in the book. She captured their distinct personalities by building trust with them and letting them truly be themselves.
"Their joy and happiness at being in the world shines through the images," she said. "I loved focusing on their faces, to capture their personalities as they did the things they love."
The book of photos, which can be ordered on the "Super Power Baby Project" site, is just the beginning for Callander. She has been asked to discuss her photos and the message behind them with medical professionals and people who care for children with disabilities internationally. She also hopes to make another book so she can continue the celebration of these unique super powers.
See the full article and more images on Huffington Post
On the home page of NBC News' popular Today.com sits an article about the Super Power Baby Project packed with the stunning images of children from the book that challenge some of society's preconceived ideas. Take a look.
We are thrilled that the message of the project came through in the article with phrases like this: "Diversity isn't a deficit within the person, it's a deficit in our culture that doesn't celebrate or encourage humanity no matter what it looks like," she said. "That was something that struck me when I met these beautiful children, that they were full of life, and potential and abilities, and they were changing their families every day. It was a magnificent honor to meet them all, and I think society misses out on these interactions with children because I think we're afraid of what's different. It doesn't need to be that way." Read the full article
Having travelled to NSW, Australia to be part of PossABLE IDEAS EXPO, we are very pleased to offer free shipping for all Australian orders of the Super Power Baby Project, as well as New Zealand orders (while stocks last). We well keep the shipping free (previously $29) for as long as we are able and we encourage you to share this offer with friends in Australia.
It was a pretty incredible feeling on our return home to see our little Evie staring back at us from a scanned copy of today's Sydney Morning Herald alongside Silvio, Kaya and Romy.
It seems that there is no end to the inspiration these wonderful little people can give, as the article was shared, tweeted and read all around the globe:
Read the full article: Photographer Rachel Callander's wonderful gift to families of children with a disability, by social affairs reporter Rachel Browne.
We are delighted to be attending the PossABLE Ideas Expo in Penrith, Sydney. You will find us exhibiting at site 12 with books, banners and smiles... and we can't wait to meet you. Rachel is the keynote speaker of the expo and will give a "motivating and moving" 10 minute presentation at 11am on both the Friday and Saturday of the two day event.
A pallet load of Super Power Baby Project books arrived in Penrith yesterday, so for the first time the Australian public will get to see the pictures and read the stories of 70 wonderful children celebrated in the book. If you are in the Sydney / Blue Mountains area come find us. The PossABLE Ideas Expo is gearing up to be the largest disability issues expo in Australia with heaps of valuable information and inspiration for you and your family.
From the PossABLE programme: "Rachel is a mum whose Art Book, The Super Power Baby Project was awarded the 2015 Outstanding Book of the Year Award for Independent Spirit in the international 2015 Independent Publishers Book Awards from amongst 6,000+ entries. Expect to be moved and motivated when you hear Rachel’s pithy ten minute talk about the Superpowers baby Evie brought to Rachel and her husband Sam’s life and the extraordinary work which has come out of their life experience. Rachel has much to teach us all."
Super Power Baby Project author Rachel Callander will be speaking at a one-day symposium on ethical issues surrounding the health and care of babies immediately before and after birth. Rachel will share the afternoon session with Associate Professor Dominic Wilkinson, the Director of Medical Ethics at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. They will speak on the topic of 'Life after NICU and/or genetic diagnosis: What happens once the acute dilemmas of NICU are over? Exploring wider perspectives and challenging preconceptions.'
Other sessions cover the following topics:
The event will be help at the Hutton Theatre in the Otago Museam. It is presented by The Otago University Bioethics Centre and is of interest to a broad group including:
More information about the Perinatal Ethics Symposium and how to register.
The big day! The day we came all the way over from New Zealand for. We had been nervous about it hoping that the trip would have been worth the effort and expense.
However as we sat in a seminar prior to the award ceremony learning about making our content go further, getting so much out of the presentation, we knew that this was exactly where we needed to be. The seminar inspired us to think of the project in terms of 'thought leadership' - sharing our passion. The book is a fantastic start to this but perhaps not the only way to change perceptions and give hope to families.
The organisers and founders of the IPPY Awards were so lovely and greeted us with a big hello saying, "Yay the Kiwis are here!" We sat at a table with some fellow authors and became quick friends. There was a wonderful spirit in the room filled with proud authors clutching their books, none prouder than us.
The 19th Independent Publisher's Award announcements began with the Outstanding Books of the Year. Accepting the award and seeing the entire room of top authors applaud the Super Power Baby Project was pretty incredible. Following this we were approached throughout the evening by people wanting to see the book. Everybody LOVED it and many shared their connection to, and respect for, super power people in their lives. Business cards, dreams and hugs were shared throughout the evening.
The event was beyond what we could have hoped for in terms of celebration, collaboration and becoming part of an ever growing community. We are so glad we were able to make it. We don't know where the Super Power Baby Project is going next, but we know that this award and event has opened our eyes and connected us with a world of opportunity to continue what was started in New Zealand: to celebrate diversity, give hope to families, change the language and help people to see the beauty in others.
The Timaru Herald helped to celebrate #NZBookMonthMay by running this article on their front page. View article on Stuff>Entertainment>Books
Super Power Baby Project book wins international award
A book by a Timaru couple about changing the way people think has been judged the world's best independently published book for 2015.
The Super Power Baby Project book beat out 6000 entries to win the Independent Spirit outstanding book of the year award, which is like the Oscars for independent books.
The Independent Publishers Book Awards are the world's largest book awards and there were entries from 36 countries this year.
The book's collaborators, Sam and Rachel Callander, said it was a tribute to their late daughter, Evie Amore Callander.
"I feel really privileged I got to be her mother and that we were open to the lessons she taught us. This book is testament to her character and spirit."
Rachel is a photographer, and her studio is dotted with framed pictures of a lot of the "wonderful" children who feature in the book, including Evie.
The day it was announced the book had won was also Rachel's birthday and it was the first thing she heard in the morning.
"It was an awesome birthday present."
Sam was overwhelmed to find out that they had not only won the outstanding book of the year award, but that the book had been singled out in the international press release as a "pioneering effort".
"To think that something that might help start people across the world change the way they think about people with disabilities started in Timaru is unreal."
The Super Power Baby Project has won the Outstanding Book of the Year Award for Independent Spirit in the international 2015 Independent Publishers Book Awards.
The Outstanding Books of the Year awards recognise the work of publishers who exhibit the courage and creativity necessary to take chances, break new ground, and bring about change, not only to the world of publishing, but to our society. The book projects our judges found the most heartfelt, unique, outspoken and experimental among almost 6,000 entries.
Author and photographer Rachel Callander said "the Independent Spirit Award recognises and celebrates the amazing children presented in the book who have so much to teach us. We're totally blown-away"
The Independent Publishers Book Awards are the world's largest book awards and this year attracted entries from 36 countries. Rachel said that winning the prestigious award is the strongest possible endorsement of the book and the many people who helped to bring it to life.
The award winners were announced via email and the awards will be presented on 27 May 2015 in New York City.
View full press release.
By Jehan Casinader, published on the New Zealand Herald
How do you love a child who may never be able to say ‘I love you’ back? A child who’ll never walk or talk, and be reliant on you for the rest of your life? Jehan Casinader meets the families raising special needs children.
Rachel Callander knows a lot about waiting. Her daughter Evie was born with a complex chromosomal disorder that warped her internal organs and stunted her growth. Evie couldn't walk or talk, but before Rachel and her husband Sam got up each morning, Evie was already wide awake. She was excited, "like a little puppy". At her own speed, Evie reached unique milestones. She was able to reach out and touch people's faces. She could hold her own bottle. She developed a wicked, infectious giggle. And yet Rachel believes some people simply saw Evie as a helpless, disabled child.
"One of the first reactions was from a close family member who said it would have been better if Evie died. And that just broke my heart. It wouldn't have been better. Every day you live on this planet is a good day. But it was hard. We were looking at this beautiful little child and wondered how long she'd be with us. We decided to make Evie's life as normal as possible. We made her accessible to our friends, and they got to know her."
Rachel is a professional photographer who looks for beauty in ordinary moments. Having learnt so much from her daughter, she wanted to share it with others. Rachel published a book called Super Power Baby Project, a collection of stunning portraits of children with chromosomal disorders. Each portrait told a unique child's story.
"The language we use to describe disability in our culture is unacceptable," she says. "We say still describe people as 'retarded' or 'abnormal'. We need to change that. I tell people that children like Evie have superpowers. They say, 'What do you mean?' Well, they're inspiring change in their communities. They have an incredible capacity for unconditional love. They can communicate so much without even using words. Evie had such big eyes; she drew people close to her and invited them to engage with her."
Read the full NZ Herald article.
The following article ran in the Clutha Leader in South Otago on 8 January 2014.
South Otago Plunket staff have been left scratching their heads after an anonymous donation of a brand new baby-themed book before Christmas.
South Otago Plunket received a mystery donation of book the Super Power Baby Project on Random Acts of Kindness Day before Christmas. Who: Staff would like to know who their mystery donor, known only as ‘‘Jules’’, is in order to thank them. How: Contact South Otago Plunket on 03 41 0525 if you have any information.
Super Power Baby Project, dropped off on ‘‘Random Acts of Kindness Day’’, was one of six copies ordered by a Clutha resident known only as ‘‘Jules,’’ Plunket nurse Nicola Ryan said.
‘‘We arrived in the morning to find it just lying there on the step,’’ Ryan said.
‘‘The order sheet mentioned six copies and a ‘Jules’, but the bookseller couldn’t tell us any more than that, unfortunately. We’d just love to thank whoever it was if anyone knows more, because it’s a lovely book.’’
Super Power Baby Project was a photographic art book containing portraits of 72 children with chromosomal abnormalities, taken by awardwinning photographer Rachel Callander.
The book emphasised the children’s special qualities and life-changing powers, making it highly inspirational for Plunket’s staff and clients alike, Ryan said. ‘‘We wanted to share this beautiful gift with as many as possible, so we’ve sent it to our Dunedin head office where Plunket nurses from across the region will get an opportunity to read it over coming months and years.’’
Otago Plunket clinical leader Barbara Warren said the book had already had quite an impact on staff, and would travel round the region.
‘‘It’s a life-affirming book th a strong message that there is more to life than challenges, anxiety, grief and difficulty, and that children have much to teach us about ourselves that is to be celebrated,’’ she said.
From the Christchurch Press, 7 Jan 2015
Evie Callander is an unlikely superhero.
She lived just two years, but inspired a book, a change in how disabled children are viewed and a remarkable fundraising campaign to empower other kids like her.
Evie was born in 2008 with a rare chromosomal disorder.
Sam and Rachel Callander were told their daughter would have developmental delays, would never walk or talk and "would not thrive". But they decided to celebrate what Evie could do rather than what she couldn't.
They invented a "new language" that described their daughter's "super powers", including an ability to draw people to her like a magnet.
They didn't use words like disability, abnormality or retardation.
Evie died in 2010 but her legacy lives on through the Super Power Baby Project. A fundraising campaign for the project on PledgeMe in September 2013 raised more than $85,000 in 35 days.
The money allowed Rachel, an award-winning wedding and portrait photographer, to hit the road and photograph more children with genetic abnormalities in their home towns.
More than 70 Kiwi kids, all with their own "super powers", have now been enshrined in the Super Power Baby Project book.
Since its launch in August, Rachel has shared the ideas behind it with thousands of people.
She spoke to 2500 people at TedX Auckland, an "amazing opportunity to share so passionately about what I believe in", and 150 paediatricians - "the ones in the front lines" - at a conference in Napier.
"Often the first thing paediatricians will say is, 'We're sorry' or, 'We should have seen this coming', and it just puts that negativity straight away into the parents' minds," Rachel said.
"They are [now] rethinking how they phrase those first encounters to make the journey as positive as possible."
Rachel said health boards were buying copies for their clinics and schools were getting copies for their libraries.
She and Sam still missed Evie every day, but it was "a different kind" of sadness. "What she has taught us and allowed us to share is beyond incredible. We're so proud of her."
Please watch, enjoy and share this wonderful TEDx Talk about the meaning behind the Super Power Baby Project - to "accept, encourage and celebrate all humanity."
Over 250 people from all over NZ attended the Super Power Baby Project book launch party on 10 August, exactly 10 months from when the project began. It was a wonderful afternoon and a great celebration of this book and all the love that has been poured into it by so many.
Video from the lives-stream.
The Super Power Baby Project took another step forward this week with the announcement that the book's author and photographer Rachel Callander is to be one of the keynote speakers at TEDx Auckland on 16 August 2014.
This is hugely exciting and a massive honour to take the message and photos of the project to an even wider audience.
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