Ari The Brave: Spotlight and Giveaway

Guest Blogger, Krystal Wallick, Author of Ari The Brave

About The Book

Ari overcomes his hospital stay.

When a little boy is hospital-bound, he gets through the scary time with his adventurous spirit and wild imagination. A hospital turns into a jungle with young Ari battling rhinos and octopuses in this wonderful tale of courage and empowerment.

The Inspiration Behind the Book

In June 2020, I had my third child, right at the height of COVID. Things were scary already, my older daughters were home from school and I was laid off from my job. Then my son’s lungs collapsed during his delivery. We almost lost him. It was the scariest time of my life. I wasn’t allowed to hold him or touch him, so I sat at his bedside daydreaming. At one point I took out my phone and began writing imaginary stories of my son being on adventures, instead of being in the hospital. Some days he was doing ok and having fun and other days, he battling something really scary. After 14 days in the NICU, we were discharged with a healthy boy. I realized how therapeutic the writing had been for me and that these stories of bravery could help other families going through similar challenges. I set out to publish the children’s books and released the first one this past August. Since then, we have sold over 300 books and donated over 125 books to children’s hospitals and NICUs all over the world!

While Ari’s story takes place in the hospital, challenges come in all different shapes and sizes. Nightmares, social anxiety, bumps, and bruises can seem almost insurmountable when viewed from their perspective. With imagination and bravery, any battle can be won. That is the message that children will get from the Ari the Brave books. This book is perfect for NICU families, medically fragile families, pediatric healthcare professionals/ child life specialists, or anybody preparing for an upcoming surgery or hospital stay. I received feedback that moms were even reading this to their children to prepare for regular doctor visits, blood draws and getting stitches.

Where to Purchase

You can purchase the books www.arithebrave.com. For the month of October, you can receive 10% off any of your orders, by using code CHILDLIFEMOMMY. All books will be personally signed by the author!

Be sure to follow Krystal on Instagram and Facebook as she continues to expand her library of resources for children and families.

We will be giving away 1 signed book to one lucky Child Life Mommy fan AND donating 1 to a children’s hospital of the winner’s choice.

Choose one or more ways to enter:

  1. Sign up for email notifications at ChildLifeMommy.com and leave a comment below.
  2. Facebook: Follow Child Life Mommy and tag two friends.
  3. Facebook: Follow Krystal Wallick Author and leave a comment.
  4. Instagram: Follow @ChildLifeMommy and @Krystal_Wallick_Author tag two friends in the post.
  5. Twitter: Follow, Like, and RT the post to @ChildLifeMommy

Good luck, the winner will be chosen by 10/9/21. Open to U.S. residents.

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The Hospital Bedtime Story 

Supporting Parents of Children with Special Needs and Medical Conditions: Spotlight on We Are Brave Together

Guest Blogger, Jessica Patay, Founder of We Are Brave Together 

“Moms often bear the brunt of the burden in managing family life, and because that burden is compounded in the case of special needs advocacy and care, many experience intense emotional and physical burnout. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of access to regular caretaking and therapies and homeschooling exponentially increased the need for support. It is for just these reasons that the workshops, resources, education, support groups, and network offers of We Are Brave Together became a vital (if virtual) lifeline for many moms across global borders.”

Founder and Executive Director, Jessica Patay, is a mother, wife, and advocate/cheerleader for caregiving mothers of children with special, medical, or extreme needs. She has been married to her husband, Chris, for 24 years and they reside in the Palos Verdes area of Southern California. They have two sons, Luke, 20, and Ryan, 18, and a daughter, Kate, age 15. Their second son, Ryan, was born with a rare, medically complex genetic disorder, called Prader-Willi syndrome. Chief clinical symptoms include an insatiable food drive (known as hyperphagia), anxiety, behavioral and intellectual impairment. Because hyperphagia is life-threatening, Jessica and her family must live with a locked kitchen, and be ever vigilant to protect Ryan from overeating into a medical emergency.

Jessica believes in the power of gathering to empower, strengthen and uplift moms in their unique, diverse, and difficult journeys. The journey to support and care for a child with additional needs is often a uniquely isolating experience, but, a few days into receiving Ryan’s diagnosis, a phone call from a local mentor mom at the Prader-Willi California Foundation gave Jessica immeasurable relief and comfort of knowing she was not alone in her experiences. This sense of community — this power of gathering — is something she’s been advocating for ever since.

Jessica likes to say We Are Brave Together was born out of a beautiful collision in her heart. Her passion for deep friendships and an understanding of the vital impact of supportive communities, combined with her experiences with special needs families ultimately inspired the creation of WABT.

We Are Brave Together is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support caregiving mothers of children, any age, with any diagnosis, disability, or challenge, including mental health and educational challenges. Based in Southern California, WABT has an international membership. The organization launched in 2017 with a core group of 125 moms and is now 1,300 women strong. The intention and mission of We Are Brave Together is to help combat the isolation and compassion fatigue that these mothers face: providing virtual and in-person support groups, educational workshops, and low-cost retreats, and retreat scholarships. WABT believes that if they can empower, educate and provide a community for moms, they will impact whole families. WABT also offers the inspirational and resourceful podcast, Brave Together.

Currently, WABT hosts in-person satellite support groups in Palos Verdes/South Bay, Los Angeles, San Diego, Utah, Arizona, Tennessee, Kansas, New York, Florida, and Ontario/Canada. New chapters are also on the horizon in Texas, Idaho, and even Australia!

WABT also provides fathers with a virtual support group of their own every other month, and a new virtual support group exclusively for Spanish-speaking moms is being developed, as well.

Every gathering that We Are Brave Together offers is available to join through their website, wearebravetogether.com and is advertised on their Instagram page @wearebravetogether.

Jessica is a lifetime lover of words, credited with the superpower of honesty in truth-telling from the trenches of motherhood. She has been actively journaling and sharing her work for moms and Special Needs Moms since 2012, on her website, jessicapatay.com. She is also the host of her very own podcast on ApplePodcasts and Spotify, titled Brave Together. You can learn more about the show’s two seasons, read about each episode, and meet her guests through the dedicated Instagram page @bravetogetherpod. Jessica Patay is also a three-time alumnus with Expressing Motherhood — a stage show of storytellers and performers, all sharing stories about motherhood.

However complicated her altered motherhood journey is, Jessica remains firm in her belief that something beautiful can be born of chronic hardship; connection and community are critical to surviving and thriving in the midst of challenges. Because she has experienced the gift of a shift in perspective, priorities, and purpose, Jessica is passionate about sharing her life stories with complete transparency and vulnerability. She upholds and validates the moms of WABT, and creates a sacred sense of sisterhood and community.

If you are a caregiving mom anywhere in the world to a child of any age, with any diagnosis, disability, or challenge, you are welcome with open arms to connect today and become part of the supportive tribe of We Are Brave Together!