Tag Archives: Writer

Daytrippers New Year Baby: Elliott Preston

Daytrippers New Year Baby - 6 Month Old Elliott Preston

Daytrippers New Year Baby – 6 Month Old Elliott Preston

Nurse and mother-of-three MELANIE PRESTON from Knoxville, Tennessee writes about life with Daytrippers New Year Baby; ELLIOTT PRESTON.  Melanie has agreed to regularly update We Are Daytrippers (THANK YOU!) to share with readers about her experience caring for a child with down syndrome.  (Don’t miss the beautiful photos of Elliott’s previous five months at the end of this post).

Melanie’s update:

“Last year this same week we found out Elliott would have an extra chromosome and while I wasn’t shocked, it certainly wasn’t what I “wanted” … fast forward to the beginning of 2015 and he is everything we wanted, needed and more!

I suppose it’s fair to say he makes us appreciate the little things in life more.  Things that I’ve never even considered with my other children … like reaching for toys, propping up on elbows and then hands, et cetera.  Sure, I remember Elliotts siblings milestones (mostly because one was super late and the other was super freakishly early); but did I celebrate them?  Not like we do (and will) with Elliott.

There is just so much work involved for something so simple like reaching his hands above his shoulder height (that was a huge one!).  Low muscle tone is also a subject of concern.  It is real and fascinating.  One of the neatest things to see is his older sister (by 17 months) is his biggest cheerleader.  She claps and jumps up and down for him – it’s adorable and I hope she remains his biggest advocate throughout his entire life.

The Preston Family

The Preston Family

Overall, Elliott is doing well developmentally for a child with down syndrome. We are working with physical therapists to help him sit and he is making huge strides.  The occupational therapist discharged him because he had met current goals and will re-evaluate when he is around 10 months.  He is about to start some puréed foods so we have an evaluation with speech therapy just so they can see how he does.  Speaking of appointments … can you say more than we can count?  Seriously!  It’s been busy in the Preston household. That’s really the only “change” to our lives in the past year and to be fair – a lot of those appointments are not only Elliott’s but his siblings as well, so it could also be very much part of having three kids?!

We have a cardiology appointment coming up in a few weeks to see how the two holes in his heart are healing so that’s our next big “thing.”  We have been so thankful this year to have had a positive experience through diagnosis, delivery, and beyond.  It’s very helpful to be surrounded by so many supportive family, friends and medical professionals but sadly I am incredibly aware that is not the norm.  Sure Elliott is different but so what!  (Aren’t we all?).   Difference is what makes us unique and he is certainly no less unique than I am!  So Happy New Year 2015 and cheers to being maybe not so different after all?”

Past articles with Melanie and Elliott:

  • Read about when Melanie found out she was having a baby with down syndrome: http://wp.me/p4FQqM-11
  • Read about when Melanie delivered Elliott herself in the car (a shock to all!): http://wp.me/p4FQqM-2v
  • Read about Elliott’s first month of life:  http://wp.me/p4FQqM-3R

We cannot get enough of these adorable pictures of Elliott’s first five months:

Elliott Preston in the NICU

Elliott Preston in the NICU



Elliott Preston - 1 Month Old

Elliott – 1 Month Old


Elliott - 2 Months Old

Elliott – 2 Months Old


Elliott - 3 Months Old

Elliott – 3 Months Old


Elliott - 4 Months Old

Elliott – 4 Months Old




Elliott - 5 Month Old

Elliott – 5 Month Old

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When I was a kid: Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky


NOAM CHOMSKY, the eighty-five year old Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, finally took the bait.  After writing a love letter to him in September he responded that he appreciated it and also wrote that Daytrippers Children’s Charity was “a wonderful mission and when asked his favourite thing to do as a child; he said:


“I guess my favorite thing to do as a young child was to play all day at the beach in the summer, and when I was a little older, to curl up in a corner with a pile of books.”

Noam Chomsky as a child

Noam Chomsky as a child

Noam Chomsky was born in 1928 in Philadelphia, a point in time that seems distant to most of us; yet childhood enjoyments remain the same in any era.  We love the thought of a young Noam tucked in a small space reading countless books, questioning everything he read and unaware of the man he would eventually become – it aligns with his remarkably insatiable quest for knowledge, transformation, excellence and philosophy of the mind.

Daytrippers receives many applications to fund group days out to the seaside.  For some kids, it might be the first or only time they will ever experience the beach.  In Chomsky’s quote for We Are Daytrippers about his favourite thing to do as a child, Mr. Chomsky reminds us that a day at the beach and having the time to read a good book is full of rewards.

Thank you to Noam Chomsky for your contribution!


The Daytrippers Team

Does Mr. Chomsky like books or what?

Does Mr. Chomsky like books or what?

Connect with Mr. Chomsky:  http://www.chomsky.info/


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Word of Advice: Gratitude will set you Free!

The Filmmaker Brian Ging in Berlin

The Filmmaker Brian Ging in Berlin

One thing you notice when you meet film writer, editor and producer BRIAN GING is that you are likely to be looking UP.  At 200 centimetres tall and beaming a bright smile, you immediately feel there is something truly special about this guy.  We Are Daytrippers was lucky to catch the busy filmmaker for a few minutes. Ging  hails from Los Angeles, California together with his talented wife (they met many years ago on a movie set) and their cat Simba.  Brian encourages us to follow our dreams one step at a time.  Here are his words of advice:

I write, direct, and edit movies in California and other locations in the USA. I also make my living editing tv shows and commercials. This had been my dream job since I was a kid in high school, but its been a long journey to get here. I grew up a regular middle-class kid living in Phoenix, Arizona. This felt like a million miles from Hollywood (where I now live). I also had no idea what the journey would look like for me to make it here. I didn’t have any movie studio connections, knew nobody named Spielberg, and often barely made enough money to pay my rent and car payments while getting work where I could… I’m not by any means making the big budget films like you see at your local cinemaplex, but I am making lower budget films and projects that I care about. And I’m still for the most part just paying my rent and car payments. But without question, I’m doing what I love.

Brian behind the scenes.

Brian Ging perfecting his craft.


I’m often asked how I got here. How did I end up with a life where I am paid to be creative for a living? Most people are looking for the magic bullet answer, the secret backdoor shortcut to reach their goal. I know in the beginning I certainly was, and I was pretty irritated that I couldn’t find it. I read books about film directors who’s first movie was discovered and they were swept into the Hollywood machine as “golden children” and granted fame and riches. I thought that sounded pretty good and I’d try that. After making my first film, that didn’t happen… The reality is that it doesn’t matter whether you are trying to build a career in a highly competitive industry like Hollywood, or working through a physical disability to strengthen your muscles with your physical therapist: There are no shortcuts. You just put one foot in front of the other (you screw up most of the time) but you grow and get better! I have always tried to simply look for the next bar on the ladder, the next step in the staircase. Whether it was working hard for free, or helping people who almost always organically helped me – I tried to make every film or commercial or project I worked on better than the last, growing and increasing my skill set.


The hardest thing for me about having such big dreams was constantly measuring how far I was away from my dream. Look how many stairs I still have to go! So many I can’t even count them! Which can be quite disheartening. To always be talking about “someday I’ll be great”, or “someday I’ll have the life I want” makes it incredibly hard to be happy in this moment… now. And that’s the secret really. To be happy in this moment, with where we are; with the step on the ladder we are currently standing on. Its like they say, gratitude will set you free.


So no matter what your dream, or your goal, realize that the only way you will reach it is to just take the next step in front of you. That’s all you are responsible for right now. I’ve learned to appreciate where I am, and where I was at in the journey towards my dreams.

One day I looked up and realized that… wow I’m doing something that would have made that teenage Brian pretty proud.  It snuck up on me really. A fifteen year overnight success and I still have a long way to go; one step at a time. Often the scariest steps I’ve taken have led to the most growth.


Brian Ging as a kid channelling Groucho Marx

Brian Ging as a kid channelling Groucho Marx

Good luck with whatever your passion is, or your dream. And know that the struggles and challenges you face … we all face them. The best thing you can do is be grateful for where you are at right now, and just take things one step at a time.









Thank you so much Brian Ging for your contribution.

Connect with Brian Ging on Twitter:  @briangging

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Spotlight: Treehouse at Number Nine

Come on over the No. 9 !

Come on over to No. 9 !

Psst!  We Are Daytrippers recently found out about an incredible group of kids on a continuous adventure … The Genies Gang who meet at The Treehouse at Number Nine.  This brand new app for ipad will soon become available in other mobile formats, but for the lucky few who have the opportunity to check it out now; you will not be disappointed.

Meet The Genies Gang

Meet The Genies Gang

From a Daytrippers Children’s Charity perspective; the stories about The Genies Gang seem to mirror many of our supporters, kids, families and carers lives that we want to be one of the first charities to promote this app with special music dynamics and lots of FUN included!1743440_803765823020510_7625435839778357228_n

Get to know Angel, Ted, Macro, Jow, Oscar, Cee-Cee and more who all have special genes that make them the fantastic characters they are.  This is just the beginning of The Treehouse at Number Nine so do stay updated, like their Facebook page, follow the gang on Twitter @TreehouseGenies but most importantly download the app first:



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Word of Advice: Let’s Try Being Kind to Each Other!

Writer, performer and comedian Bernadette Russell.  Photograph by Gerald Kydd.

Photograph of Bernadette Russell by Gerald Kydd

Comedian, writer, performer and kindness crusader BERNADETTE RUSSELL is devoted to spreading happiness.  She recently wrote an activity book for kids based on ideas of kindness called Do Nice, Be Kind, Spread Happy.  This book resonates with Daytrippers ethos of spreading happiness to disabled and terminally-ill children.  Brook from The Daytrippers Team found out about the book while browsing Waterstones and immediately got in touch with Russell to see if she might contribute to We Are Daytrippers.  Guess what?  She said yes (yahoo!) and made us very happy because we think of her as a true expert in how to be a most excellent person.

Here is Bernadette Russell’s word of advice:

The news is really depressing and horrible. Sometimes for ghoulish fun I string together all the headlines into one long sentence like this: “scientistwarnglobalwarmingresultsinkillerbeesandimmigrantsandbenefitscheatsstealingpensionsandcausingcancer. “

It’s unbearable sometimes, to face it all, and to be left wondering “What Can I do about all that?” and those stories, on a loop, delivered 24/7 with loads of splashy headlines full of terrifying exclamation marks and dramatic bold fonts, make us think how bad the world is, how awful we are, us human beings.

I like to remind myself, of course, there is loads of bad stuff in the world, but it is always outweighed by the good. Maybe you don’t believe me. Maybe you sigh and say something like, “that’s a nice thought, but she’s living in cloud cuckoo land” (I love this expression actually, I do wonder what it would look like, and if cuckoos rule it or not? Is it actually IN THE CLOUDS? That would be great. Unlikely, but great).

I actually live in Deptford, South East London, my formerly scruffy, recently gentrified little patch of home. It’s still pretty poor, although now you can buy a soya flat white and buy organic quinoa, plus there’s a picture of Jamie Oliver visiting Deptford, on one of those luxury flat hoardings, and I like him, so I don’t mind seeing him.

Bernadette Russell, the kindness crusader

Bernadette Russell, the kindness crusader. Photograph by Graeme Braidwood.

So, a while ago, August 18th 2011, post-riots and with a head spinning with images of buildings on fire and the bigoted foamy rantings of various people in the media, I paid for a boy’s stamp in the local post office. Since then, I have promised to be kind to a stranger every day for a year. I initially committed to a year, but the experience was so life changing that I kept it up, and you can read the whole story here should you wish www.366daysofkindness.com

Pretty much for the last three hundred years we have accepted as fact the belief of various respected and powerful thinkers (Sigmund Freud etc.) that humankind is innately selfish. Often when we hear stories about someone mugging some one else in the park, we also hear “oh, that’s human nature” as if this is the natural order of things and to be expected, suggesting perhaps that kindness is the unusual thing.

I’d like to suggest that it’s not. We’ve somehow been persuaded to believe that other people are bad, to be feared, avoided, be suspicious of. But I offer you this challenge: just notice tomorrow how often people are kind to you (opening doors, helping with a heavy case, saying thanks, smiling, letting you go first, all those every day courtesies that keep society functioning and ensure that we muddle along together). Ok, so once or twice during your day someone might be rude or grumpy but I bet that’s outweighed by the good things. Every day. You might get home and say: “this man swore at me to get out of the way of the bus” On a day filled with many many small acts of kindness we report on and remember the bad ones. I try to do the reverse. I try to remember all the good things that happened in the day. I try to be kind at every opportunity. I try to forgive people for their grumpiness or rudeness (I don’t have the slightest idea what sort of day/week/life they’ve had after all). The person who is rude to me may have just found out they didn’t get a job they were after. They might have had an argument with their mum. They might be worried about money. Or just stubbed their toe.

Doing this has made me happier and less fearful. I have got to know my neighbours. I’m no saint of course. Being kind every day, remembering the good things, and being forgiving are still a challenge now, even after all this time. Sometimes I am that grumpy person on the bus. But I forgive myself that too, and shrug it off. I try to also be kind to myself in this way.

Of course I am by no means the only person who thinks this: lots of people are thinking about kindness, empathy and happiness, and how we can evolve as a species. (That whole “eye for an eye” thing not having worked out so well for us). There are loads of organisations promoting kindness and happiness, promoting ideas of hope instead of fear, having faith in human beings. There are conversations happening globally in cafes and round kitchen tables, on Facebook and twitter about these ideas: that the relentless pursuit of money and power, the acquisition of possessions, the narrow view of success that these pursuits imposes upon us has not made the world a better place and has definitely not made us happier. That there is another way.

A while ago I was at the rally to save the NHS in Trafalgar, a subject close to my heart. To me the NHS embodies compassion, empathy and a collective optimism that must be defended. Billy Bragg came on stage to sing to us all as the sun went down. He spoke about “our enemy being cynicism” and he’s right. Don’ t be cynical, and you will already be helping to make the world better. If you have to moan then ask yourself what can I do to help? There may well be something. (not moaning is a start – I often tell myself this!)

Bernadette Russell and musician Billy Bragg

Bernadette Russell and musician Billy Bragg. Photograph by Sian Williams.

But above everything else: be kind. Kindness is the same as love. In the end it is all that matters. There’s a revolution coming. It’s all going to be alright.

Bernadette Russell

Twitter @betterussell



These are some of the organisations that have helped me:

Action For Happiness

Sunday Assembly

People United

The Daytrippers Team:  Thank you so much for your contribution Bernadette Russell.  x

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5 Minutes With … Kin Molina

Musician Kin Molina

Photograph by Carlos Jimenez.

Spanish journalist KIN MOLINA  was ready for a career change.  Brook from The Daytrippers Team spoke to Molina over a year ago and recalls him saying “My last interview was with Emma Stone, some American girl and I have to keep replaying the interview over and over to understand her accent!”  Molina (also known as Joaquin Molina Reina) returned to a career in music (he also occasionally makes time to cook a superb authentic paella for his neighbours!).  Authentic, wise and talented are three words to easily describe the hard-working singer and composer whose most recent album does not disappoint.  We Are Daytrippers are thankful he took time out for a brief interview:


The Daytrippers Team:  Who was your role model or mentor as a child?

Kin Molina:  If I had to choose a role model, it would be my mother without any doubt.  My father had problems with alcohol and my family (mum, brother and I) dealt with that situation the best way we could.  I’m Spanish and during the seventies, when I was a child, it was not very easy for women in my country.  My mother was a nurse and she worked very hard for my brother and I to have a decent life.  I remember her as a very modern and beautiful woman (she still is!), always happy and in a good mood.  She always made the most out of the difficult situation we were living in.

The Daytrippers Team:  Who is currently your role model?

Kin Molina:  As a journalist I have interviewed many famous people:  Francis Ford Coppola, Helen Mirren, Dolce and Gabbana, Tamara Rojo … to name a few.  but there was one person that made a very big impression on me; the Kenyan environmental and political activist Wangari Maathai.  She won the Nobel Prize in 2004.  A brave woman who dedicated her life to promote the recovery of the forests in Kenya and other countries.  She died in 2011.  I think she is a role model to follow for the future generations.

In the early 80’s, I worked for a literary magazine in my home city, Málaga.  I was also a part time poet and published a few poems.  At the same time, I was working in a publishing house called Dador that was dedicated to recovering hidden gems of Spanish and Latin American literature, the Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas was among them.  We met him in Madrid at the end of the 80’s and I remember him as a person full of life and joy in spite of the hardships he had endured.  At that time we met, he was exiled from Miami and unfortunately later died of AIDS.  There is a very interesting film about his life called Before Night Falls by Julian Schnabel with Javier Bardem in the role of Reinaldo Arenas.

The Daytrippers Team:  What is your creative talent and how do you cultivate it?

Kin Molina:  I wrote my first song when I was around 17.  It was a very gloomy and gothic song about a plague in a city.  During the eighties I was a member of a techno-pop band called Requiem.  We played together for five years and after the band split I went solo for a couple of years in a project more similar to electronic cabaret.  After that period of my life I moved to Madrid and went into journalism, writing for national magazines.  Recently, I returned to music after moving to London and I’m preparing to release an album.

The Daytrippers Team:  Have you had any experience with disabled people?

Kin Molina:  Yes, I have indeed.  My brother contracted polio when he was one year old.  It affected his left leg.  I am three years younger than him so as far as I can remember my brother has always been dealing with this issue.  Until adolescence it was not a big problem.  We played together, we went to the beach with my mother, and we did the usual things that boys do.  But when he was 13 or 14, everything changed.  My brother stopped coming with us to the beach and became more reclusive for a few years.  I suppose this was because he was self-conscious, but he did not and does not talk much about that.

The Daytrippers Team:  Who and what motivates and inspires you to be creative?  

Kin Molina:  Films, Art, Life.  I love Nina Simone, Marianne Faithfull, Nico, Kate Bush, Diamanda Galás, The Associates, David Bowie, Scott Walker, Brian Eno, Nick Cave, Kurt Weill … the list can go on.  If I have to choose one person, without a doubt Marc Almond would be the main source of inspiration in my music.

The Daytrippers Team:  Thank you so much Kin Molina for your time.

Connect with Kin Molina:  @kin_molina


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5 Minutes With … Leon Logothetis


Leon cuddling a Boston Terrier.

Leon cuddling a Boston Terrier.

Not only does LEON LOGOTHETIS believe in being a kind person; he believes in the kindness of others.  According to Leon you can find kind people everywhere – all over the world in fact (and he would know).  Mr. Logothetis has been to every continent, visited 50 countries and hosted the TV series ‘Amazing Adventures of a Nobody.’  He documented his travels getting by on £5.00 per day and the decency of others in the form of his book The Kindness Diaries (available for purchase December 2014).

We Are Daytrippers think that any person who takes life by the horns and goes for it like Leon does deserves high marks in our book!  On his website it states:  “Changing lives one adventure at a time.”  Daytrippers can certainly relate to that challenge.  We are thankful to Leon for his time in this brief interview.


The Daytrippers Team: Who is currently your role model or mentor?

Leon Logothetis: I would say that the people I meet on my adventures around the world are my mentors & my role models. They teach me how to be a better person and how to see that there are two sides to every story. They also keep me humble and keep me on my toes.

Ultimately, i guess what i am saying is that ‘people’ from all walks of life have taught me that we really are all the same. We have good traits. we have bad traits. But at base we all want the same things: Love. Acceptance. Hope.

The Daytrippers Team:  Did you have a role model or mentor as a child?

Leon Logothetis: I had a mentor when I was a teenager, Dr Susan Mann.  She taught me to believe in myself. She taught the power of kindness and the necessity of following your dreams.

Leon goes bonkers!

Leon goes bonkers!

The Daytrippers Team:  What is your creative talent?

Leon Logothetis: I think my creative talent is in my writing and in my ability to connect with people. I cultivated both of these things by taking risks!

The Daytrippers Team:  Would you share a challenge in your life? 

Leon Logothetis: One of the greatest challenges I had in my life was living someone else’s definition of my life. My failure to live my own dreams led me towards depression and disappointment. when I left my job as  a broker I found the courage to be the person I always wanted to be.  In finding that courage, I have been inspired by many people along the way; people who have made me into the person I am today. Without all the connections I made, I wouldn’t be living my truth.

The Daytrippers Team:  What motivates or inspires you to be creative?

Leon Logothetis: The act of creating is motivated by my desire to inspire others to be the best they can be.  If something I do speaks to someone else in even a small way then my creativity has been worth it. And another thing that inspires my creativity is that its fun to be creative!

The Daytrippers Team: Do you have any advice for children who are facing difficulties?

Leon Logothetis: As a kid I was bullied and felt very shy and introverted. I was lucky because I met some people who believed in me and showed me that I was worth a lot more than I thought I was. If anyone tries to put you down, or take away your joy, just remember that you are worth a lot more than you think … and if that doesn’t work contact me and I will tell you!

The Daytrippers Team:  Thank you so much Leon for your contribution.

Connect with Leon Logothethis: @LeonLogothetis

LeonLogothetis.comLeon Logothetis

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MY STORY: Rene Roberts “My Mind in the Mirror”

Rene Roberts and husband

Rene Roberts and husband

RENE ROBERTS does not accept mediocracy.  As a motivational speaker, primary school teacher, writer and life coach, she is driven to succeed and help others do the same.  As any bronzed Californian might, Ms. Roberts also enjoys athletics and despite her diagnosis of cerebral palsy as a young girl, she set herself the challenge to become a triathlete.  We Are Daytrippers is in awe of Roberts and salute her courage to speak out about life with cerebral palsy and in doing so, inspire future generations.

Here is Rene’s story:

When I lay in bed at night or curl up in my comfy chair to watch the Angel game or when I am in the middle of a great lesson with my first grade class, disability is no where to be found.

As a child I would walk through our neighborhood outdoor mall with my siblings or family and EVERY time I walked past a mirror or a reflection in a window I was shocked by what I saw. I never once recognized that skinny scrawny kid with the twisted legs who basically willed her body forward with each step. The metal braces were foreign. The eventual plastic braces were foreign too, but most of all the disability was and still is foreign to me. I can’t relate to it. I don’t see myself that way in the mirror of my mind.

In the mirror of my mind I am strong and tall and tan and kind of cute. Sometimes in the mirror of my mind I am even sexy but never in the mirror of my mind am I weak and broken and limping along. I never have been. I don’t know why and I can only speak to my experience but I have always believed myself to better, stronger and more capable than the reflection in the mirror. Maybe this is the way I survive. Perhaps it is the way I thrive. Some may say I am merely fooling myself, that I am delusional or that I have body dysmorphia to the positive extreme. That all may be true, but does it matter? Yes, it matters very much because each day I get up and get dressed (in cute outfits) and I go to work and I shop and I am a wife and a mom and in the mirror of my mind I am no different than you are.

What if the reverse was true? What if everyday I saw my self as socety sees me? What if I believed that because my body doesn’t look a certain way I have no right to a job or an education? What if I believed that my disability made me so ugly I should never leave the house or travel the world? What if I believed that because I was disabled I should never have children? What if I believed as so many do, that because my body is broken or twisted I must have no brain?

This is the reality of society’s mirror. I apply for 20 jobs to get offered one. I have 2 degrees because I felt I needed to be over qualified for any job to compensate for my disability. I have been shunned and suffered terrible abuse in foreign countries because “we don’t want people like you here”. I have even had parents request that their child not be placed in my class because I am disabled. Societies mirror of disability is cracked and splintered. I can’t do anything about that. I can however continue each day to manage my own reflection in the mirror. I must continue to nurture the woman I see without bitterness, anger or upset. I know now that as I reflect my image of my mind in the mirror others begin to see that reflection too.

The children I teach each day soon forget that their teacher is disabled because most days I forget. We are too busy learning and growing and laughing and exploring. Too busy most days to notice the teacher with the skinny legs or even to notice the sometimes-needed wheelchair. To my students the wheelchair for me is a tool I need to do my job in the same way their pencil is a tool they need to do their job. My reflection each day to 5 and 6 year olds has the power to alter societies reflection in the mirror. My refusal to be bitter or angry when people are stupid and cruel has the ability to alter societies reflection in the mirror. My willingness to live fully as a mother and do crazy fun things with my grown sons and someday my grandchildren will I am certain alter societies reflection in the mirror. Each day my responsibility is to manage my own reflection regardless of the cracks, splinters and distortions others may see. If my view and vision in the mirror is consistent enough perhaps those around me will start to buy new mirrors!

The Daytrippers Team:  Thank you so much Rene Roberts for your contribution.


Rene Roberts and sons

Rene Roberts with her two sons.


Stay connected to Rene:  http://www.renerobertswins.com/

And also on Twitter:  @renerobertswins

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5 Minutes With … Sara Johnson Jackson

Sara Johnson, Keshet Head of Scripted Co-Productions and media representative for Ch18 Europe

Sara Johnson, Keshet Head of Scripted Co-Productions and media representative for Ch18 Europe

Maybe it was fate Daytrippers has shared an office with Keshet International for 18 months or perhaps it was our initial admiration for the HBO show Homeland and countless other successful productions from Keshet.  Whatever the reason, we naturally became friendly with its Executive Producer and Head of Co-Productions, Sara Johnson Jackson.  She’s an inspiration to watch in action and always knows what to say while staying genuine, clever and authentic.  She is someone you want to know.  We were thrilled when she and her two sons came to Daytrippers 10th Birthday party in 2013.  Sara is full of experience and wisdom.  Do read on to feel inspired and get to know her:


5 Minutes with Sara Johnson Jackson


The Daytrippers Team:  Who was your role model or mentor as a child and how did they influence your life? 

Sara JJ:  So many people are in my head and heart as I try to live well but my Mum has been a big influence.  She worked in TV up to having my brother, sister and me and then after we had all gone to senior school.  Alongside the glamour of BBC Manchester, what I realise she also gave to me was her commitment to volunteering and doing for others.  As far back as I can remember she has been part of the League of Jewish Women and across the years has volunteered with them throughout the north Manchester community.  She has just become the NW regional chair and still does hand massage and Head Start at Christie’s cancer hospital.  She used to visit and help with physio for one lovely boy with cerebral palsy and take me along in the holidays which I loved.  I often went with her to sing in old age homes and hospitals and it was just part of what we did.  When I look back now, as a Mum who works in TV, still sings a bit and spends my spare time helping to run our Chromosome 18 Europe Charity and work on behalf of GDUK, I see that someone wonderful showed me how to face outwards as well as in.

The Daytrippers Team:  Who is currently your role model/mentor?

Sara JJ:  At work I have a lovely network of people that I add to with each new job.  As a mum my sister is someone who I get so much advice and wisdom from. And in charity I am awed by the other members of our amazing Ch18 Europe committee, all parents of complicated children, and Janine Cody, the mum who started it all 20 years ago by going back to finish her genetics studies and set up the Ch18 clinical study to teach her about her own baby who nobody could explain.

The Daytrippers Team: What is your creative talent and how do you cultivate it?

Sara JJ:  I love to write, and through my writing express how I feel through emotions both happy and sad.  I blog at sarajinbetween.blogspot.com, write kids books, I do articles when I can and I feel stodgy when I haven’t expressed myself for a while, even a scribble in a notebook will do.  I also love to run storytelling sessions for kids at school in my spare time.

The Daytrippers Team:  Have you had any experience with disabled people?

Sara JJ: I have a natural affinity and comfort with disabled people because of my Mum’s volunteering.  A lot of the people affected by Ch18 have moderate to severe disabilities and I enjoy reading about them through their parents and meeting them at conference every other year.  And my own son has 18p deletion and 22q duplication, both rare genetic disorders and registered disabilities.  He is very physically and developmentally fortunate but I have my own views (and some old blogs) on invisible disabilities and how it isn’t always easy to look like everyone else.

The Daytrippers Team:  What motivates or inspires you to be creative?

Sara JJ:  I know it’s something that makes people smile and helps me to be a nicer person.  I love to make cards and draw on brown paper instead of buying normal wrapping for presents, I like to face paint my kids when they let me and any opportunity to draw with them I do.  I am part altruistic in my creative output, but mainly it helps me feel good and zone out from my often too busy life.

Sara with her two lovely sons and dog by the seaside.

Sara with her two lovely sons and dog by the seaside.

The Daytrippers Team:  Would you share a challenge in your life?  How did it affect your life?

Sara JJ: The biggest challenge I had was the first 4 years of my little boy’s life, when I knew he was so poorly because something wasn’t right.  When I finally shouted loud enough and found a doctor who listened, we discovered his 18p deletion but they still couldn’t tell me anything about it.  I felt lonely and inadequate, but thankfully through the Chromosome 18 Registry I learnt about him and took all the advice I could get to give him the best start I could.  7 years on and I help other people like me so they never feel like I did, but I still haven’t met a doctor who has heard of this condition or met a child with it.  So my life, our lives, that of my husband, our wonderful eldest son, our parents and siblings and cousins, they are all affected but only positively by our miracle boy.  For me in my head it is never as simple as it is for them as they look at this typical-seeming smiling boy, and perhaps don’t quite know all it took and still does to keep things ticking along.  But I know that this is why I was put here.  To be mother to my boys and whatever else comes from that.

The Daytrippers Team:  Open information or advice about anything.

Sara JJ:  I work with Jeans For Genes who try to reach out to parents in need.  It is so easy to plough on, through any challenges, thinking that nobody understands or can help.  And it’s true we none of us walk in each other’s shoes, but we can try to help even so and parents with challenges in their home have a shorthand no matter how different the challenge.  The internet is an amazing thing, it lets you peek out and see if anyone is there to help, and slowly allows you to reveal your vulnerabilities by typing, asking, through chat rooms or internet groups of like minded people.  Learn to find safe places to do that and speak, write, cry, yell, smile, hug and be part of the people around you.  Loneliness is what we have to try to avoid, certainly what I try to remind myself is something I want to keep moving forwards from.

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Learn more about Chromosome 18: http://www.chromosome18.org



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