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5 Minutes With … Daytrippers Celebrity Ambassador Kurt Yaeger

We got lucky!  Daytrippers Celebrity Ambassador KURT YAEGER  recently devoted an afternoon to answer a few questions for We Are Daytrippers in the midst of his very busy schedule.  Thanks so much Kurt.  We love what you said in this video as it was inspirational, encouraging and gives us insight into what makes you, you!  Don’t miss these five minutes with Kurt Yaeger:

Connect with Kurt Yaeger:  @kurtyaeger

http://kurtyaeger.com/

*Many thanks also to Brian Ging and Stacy Kesten – a dynamic film duo out of Los Angeles who took the time to interview Kurt.

 

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The Daytrippers Team: Love Letter to Noam Chomsky

How to convince NOAM CHOMSKY that We Are Daytrippers would greatly value his contribution?  To my chagrin his last response read: “Wish I could help, but I am afraid I cannot answer these questions.  I didn’t have a mentor or role model as a child, and don’t now, and have nothing of interest to say about the other topics.”  LogoPlease_Cuore.jpg

In May of 2014 I watched Noam speak at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London which happened to coincide with when the concept for We Are Daytrippers began to formulate.   The discussion at Chatham House was about Rethinking US Foreign Policy  of which I personally know very little but was curious to hear what Noam Chomsky had to say in person.  The legend was as I expected; comfortable in his own skin, pleasantly argumentative and brilliant in his responses.  And why wouldn’t he be? He has the experience, education, expertise and connections to find out many answers to US Foreign Policy.

Noam Chomsky speaking at Chatham House, 2014

Noam Chomsky speaking at Chatham House, 2014

It is for this reason I was so keen to feature Noam Chomsky and find out his answers to my 5 Minutes With section; pure curiosity.  When I mentioned my wish while chatting with a friend she cooly said “oh I used to correspond with Noam all the time while studying linguistics at Oxford” and a few minutes later she e-mailed some of their correspondence to me as further proof.

What’s a girl to do when she’s given the contact details of a man she wants to interview?

The next day I e-mailed him my interview questions and information about We Are Daytrippers and two hours later an assistant responded to say that Professor Chomsky was travelling. Bingo!  Just the mere response from the assistant was exciting.

A month later I sent a follow up e-mail.  Two days later Mr. Chomsky responded:

“The deluge of requests for interviews is so enormous that I am compelled, reluctantly, to resort to this form letter to say that I cannot consider any further ones until at least September.  Sorry, but just no choice.”

When 1st September rolled around I made sure to follow up for the third time thinking in the back of my mind that maybe just maybe this could be the time.

Let’s face it, Noam Chomsky IS understandably inundated with interview requests regarding human rights, international affairs, foreign policy, linguistics … the list of areas where he is considered an expert is long.  He is GREAT in an interview and can be controversial.

We Are Daytrippers aims to create an inclusion audience.  By inclusion I mean an audience of readers made up of Daytrippers Children’s Charity supporters, active members in our database and experts; but also engaging people who are not affected by children with disabilities and or life-threatening illnesses.  By doing this, we raise awareness about disability, our charity and create (hopefully) interesting content.

There are many evidence-based studies about the positive impacts role models, mentors, experts and creatives have on an individual throughout his or her life.  Our aim is to promote suitable role models for all children, disabled or not, in hopes that they might benefit.  One of our favorite advocates in this area is the neuro-scientist Mary Helen Immordino-Yang who has agreed to contribute to We Are Daytrippers.

Noam Chomsky, might you please reconsider and contribute too?

Respectfully yours,

Brook from The Daytrippers Team

Read some articles about Noam Chomsky here: http://www.chomsky.info/

 

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The Daytrippers Team: “Press 4 to hear the message”

Brook Morrison from The Daytrippers Team describes the moment she began to understand what it might be like to have a disabled child.

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and after two miscarriages in two years, I started to worry.  The thought of never having a child was devastating to me and I desperately began to research every possible wives tale, fertility issue and evidence-based study that might help.  Eventually I went to visit a specialist who diagnosed me with mild polycystic ovarian syndrome.  My spare time was spent researching stories and evidence meant to increase fertility; I began to drink whole milk, eat eggs, stopped drinking alcohol, restricted caffeine and followed strict guidelines.

In March 2010 a pregnancy test was positive.  Who knows if the diet changes worked but I felt differently about this pregnancy and called my Mom immediately.  She answered the phone with morning in her voice as it was early for her (we are five hours apart as she lives in Florida and I live in England) and I blurted out “hi grandma.”  For a minute I didn’t know whether the line had dropped.  Then I heard her speak through tears and she said “really?”  I never shared the news of the previous miscarriages with her before but we had a long discussion about it and I’ll never forget how special that moment was between my Mom and I.  That evening I told my other half when he got home (my Mom and I discussed video taping his reaction – I did not do that).  But his reaction?  The repeated word “wow!”

The 12 week Ultrasound scan.

The 12 week Ultrasound scan.

To say I was thrilled to be pregnant but hated how it made my body react is an understatement.  Among the usual constant nausea and exhaustion, I vomited every day on a complete whim without notice (on the Gatwick Express train, while riding a crowded bus in my scarf on the way to Luton airport, while walking to the store … the list is endless).  At week 12 of pregnancy we went for the first ultrasound scan.  The technician slathered goo on my belly and a blob appeared on the screen.  There before my eyes was a little creature like thing moving from one way to the next and back and forth.  It was absolutely incredible!  Was this really happening in my stomach?!  The Ultrasound technician started to snap a few prints for us to take home and then she stopped, focusing on the head.  Immediately, I said, “he has a very thick nuchal fold” (this is a marker for chromosome abnormalities detected by fluid retention behind the neck) and my heart completely, in one loud THUD, sank as low as it could. I remember Dad-to-be telling me not to be so negative but the technician confirmed that it was indeed very thick; she left the room, came back and gave me a 1 in 10 chance of having a child with down’s syndrome. The average risk for someone my age was 1 in 1000. We were told to see a specialist at week 14 to see if the nuchal fold had decreased in size and to make a decision about whether to have a CVS (Chorionic villus sampling – a prenatal test that detects chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus).

The decision was not easy, especially as there was a tiny risk of losing the pregnancy, but decided it would be best to have the CVS in order to prepare ourselves emotionally and mentally for the future. This was also the moment I told friends and family who were overwhelmingly understanding and supportive.  A friend of mine was getting married in Austin, Texas and I had to tell her we would not be there and why.

The staff at the London clinic were positive, the walls were bright, the office was filled with future parents or women about to undergo procedures.  I was freaked out.  We waited in a small room on our own until they called my name, scanned  my belly once again and then went into the room to have the CVS.  The doctor came in chatting a mile a minute, the nurse was smiling and I felt like it was The Twilight Zone.  The doctor kept talking to me, put a numbing agent on my stomach and said he would talk to me during the whole experience.  OOF!  The needle poked through and it felt like being punched in the stomach but it was over in a matter of seconds.

48 hours later I had not miscarried.  Hooray!  But what was most difficult?  Waiting up to 10 days for the results.  The clinic explained that the test could pick up other chromosomal abnormalities, heart defects – a myriad of complications.  So naturally I did exactly what you should not do and researched all sorts of disabilities and experiences of families with disabled children. I could not get enough.  I read heartbreaking, happy and tragic stories about families, carers, women and children; what helped them cope, what broke them down, how they processed the knowledge that their child would have a disability, etc.  Some people made the decision to terminate and others found out too late and/or continued with the pregnancy.  All of them made a life changing and sometimes agonizing decision based on what was right for their personal circumstance.  Surprisingly, reading these stories made me feel better.  There were SO many of them.  I was not alone, it was a whole new world I never knew existed.

One week after the CVS I walked into the house and was handed a mobile.  “Press 4 to hear the message” he said.   Heart pounding I took the phone.   It was a polite woman on the other line and I was so numb I did not even listen properly but asked the future father “was the test positive for DS?”

No.

…Queue floods of tears.

Perhaps you read the story about Melanie Preston?  While waiting for the CVS results during my pregnancy she was in nursing school and she kept reassuring me that all would be fine; she thought I was having a boy because boys were more likely to have thick nuchal folds than girls.  I thought she was just trying to ease my stress.  But you know what?  Somehow she was right.  I gave birth to a boy on 10th December, 2010.   He is THE most wonderful human in the history of mankind. 🙂  And you know what else?  Melanie went on to have her own son with a thick nuchal fold.   His name is Elliott.  The beauty of it all is that; thick nuchal fold or not, any child has the ability to bring joy.   Sure, some children are born with a disability, but they are not fully defined by their disability.

Since this experience during my pregnancy, my heart swells when I see a child with down’s syndrome.  I want to go up to them and hug them.  Thick nuchal folds of the world UNITE!

Brook and her son in Portugal in 2013.

Brook and her son in Portugal in 2013.

 

Stay connected to Brook Morrison:  @ebrookm

 

 

 

 

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The Daytrippers Team: Brook Morrison

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Brook Morrison started working with Daytrippers in 2012

My mother was pregnant with me in the Dominican Republic but ella no habla espanol so I was born in the USA (cue Bruce Springsteen please).  By my 18th birthday I had lived in four countries, seven US states and 17 cities.  Here’s why (see thumbnail photo):

baseball copy

My dad was a major league baseball player.

After graduating from University I spent the rest of my 20’s in New York City working towards a media career until the opportunity arose to live in London.  Daytrippers hired me in 2012 and it has been an exciting journey.  I can even utter the phrase “I love my job” and not cross my fingers behind my back.

I’m the autonomous type; someone who does not want to lead or follow, but go my own way.  As an analytical person, I find myself always seeking the underlying principles and structures of everything.  I feel happiest reading the newspaper in bed with a cup of coffee, exploring cities and art museums or being lazy at the beach.   My greatest loves are my family and close friends, particularly my son who truly brings so much to the table. being a parent is everything I expected it to be and more.

In many ways I can relate with some of the families at Daytrippers because I was a very ill child; constantly in and out of hospital until about age 12.  At 16, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder which I never took seriously until very recently after I identified closely with an article about women and ADD.

Although there are of course varying degrees of severity in diagnosis and carer situations with Daytrippers; I believe my childhood experiences help me to understand and empathize with many Daytrippers families and carers.  When I was a child it was common for me to ask my parents “why me?  Why do I have to go to the doctor every day or stay in hospital?” and the answer my Mom gave me was usually candid or encouragement and sometimes it was: “Don’t feel sorry for yourself.  We have so much.  We have each other.  Let’s choose to be happy.”  Perhaps that’s why I try my best to choose happiness despite life challenges and it’s also likely why I love having fun and working for Daytrippers.  Daytrippers makes disabled and terminally-ill children  happy.  What’s better than that?

Connect with Brook: @ebrookm

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