A place to show my love for my granddaughter who lives with Cerebral Palsy and my passion for painting. In an effort of raising awareness for C.P. every painting brush stroke I make on raw canvas is a stroke of love, as I discretely paint a green C.P. awareness ribbon in every piece. Can you find them?
Do you know someone who would like to have a painting done? email www.harrold.janet@gmail.com

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Power of a Little Green Ribbon

The Power of a Little Green Ribbon By Janet Harrold Written for the CP Family Network
For over 20 years now I have been expressing myself through art. It wasn’t until 5 years ago, when my beautiful granddaughter was born with cerebral palsy, that I started including a green awareness ribbon in my work. The Search for Answers Before Hailey was born, I really didn’t know too much about CP. When we first found out that Hailey had cerebral palsy I felt helpless. I thought to myself, how can I possibly help my family when I don’t know the first thing about her diagnosis? Like so many others, I craved information. I began scouring the Internet every night desperately searching for ways to help Hailey have a better quality of life. I admit that even after 5 years of gathering information like a beaver gathers wood, I still do not know all that there is to know about her diagnosis. But, I have learned a lot more than I ever thought that I could. I have met some of the strongest and most caring people and have built relationships with others who live the same life that Hailey lives. That life consists of love, courage, happiness and often times a life full of physical pain, discomfort, and exhaustion. The challenges she faces every single day are at times overwhelming. Spreading the Message Through it all, Hailey continues to smile her contagious smile and her determination is like no other. When Hailey was first diagnosed, I spent weeks and months crying. After the initial shock of her diagnosis began to wear off, I dried my eyes and decided to pick myself up and dust myself off and vow to never cry for Hailey again. After all, crying wasn’t going to help her one bit. I began writing about the things that I had learned so that others behind me could begin their journey armed with more information than we had as a family. My blog, “Painting For Hailey,” was written to educate my extended family and introduce them to the wonderful little girl that we are so blessed to have in our lives. Raising awareness and educating others about CP became a top priority for me. I wanted to be sure to keep the tone of my blogs very positive. Remembering all that I have learned doesn’t come particularly easy for me. I am well aware that middle age is creeping in; my memory doesn’t serve me as it once did. I find myself leaving notes everywhere so I won’t forget things. I’ve even reverted back to my childhood methods to try and keep myself on track. When I was a child, lessons were easier to remember if they were taught through song or word association. I paired up my encouraging words with vowels. This helped me to remain positive. I constantly rehearsed these words: A-ADVOCATE E- EDUCATE I-INSPIRE O-OBSERVE U-UPLIFT 5 simple words with a positive message. I built my posts around these commandments. Advocacy Through Art The idea of raising awareness everywhere and any way eventually translated into my artwork. I found myself leaving hidden messages of green awareness ribbons in every painting that I painted. At first they were very discreet; they were unobtrusive. Later they had become more blatant. I’ve written the quote, “I am a delicate flower; you are the sunshine that helps me grow,” to accompany the picture shown here. In this piece, you can see the ribbon on the girl’s necklace. Suddenly, this became more of a trademark for me and eventually a game for others. I get emails saying, “I can’t find the ribbon. Did you forget to put it in the painting?” Or they would request that I paint the ribbon in a specific spot. I have also been told of other causes that the green ribbon represents, such as organ donors, mitochondrial disease, leukemia and so many others. Mission Accomplished People are now looking beyond the painting and searching for the green ribbon. A subliminal message, I admit; but an important message nonetheless. This is only a small step in raising awareness for CP, but if each of us take many small steps, who knows how far we may walk together?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cerebral Palsy Awareness and Something Special Magazine

As many of you may already know, since my granddaughter Hailey was born 5 years ago, I have been painting to help raise awareness for Cerebral Palsy. I am a firm believer in educating others about disabilities. Before Hailey was born I had no idea how to treat others who were “uniquely abled” of course I was never mean to anyone, but I am embarrassed to say that I really didn’t know much about people who had disabilities, I had no reason to, that is until Hailey touched our lives with her warm heart, her fierce determination, her contagious smile and of course her many many challenges that accompany her C.P. I’ve always enjoyed painting, but Hailey is the driving force that feeds my passion. As it says in my biography “ Every brush stroke I make on raw canvas is a stroke of love, I paint to raise money and awareness for Cerebral Palsy. To own a painting by me is to own part of my passion. I am doing something that I love to do for someone that I love. To signify the cause, any recent work will have a green Cerebral Palsy awareness ribbon placed discreetly in the painting. I love that I get emails from people who cannot seem to find the green ribbon that I incorporate in my paintings, it means that the word is getting out, that they are looking, and that makes me happy. Recently I have been put in touch with “Something Special Magazine” This magazine is an incredible resource for families who are living with people who have disabilities. They are based out of Savannah Georgia and have distribution in many locations in Georgia and the Carolinas. The magazine includes local resources, has special features on numerous disorders, such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy Down Syndrome, Chromosome Disorders and Juvenile Diabetes just to name a few. They have articles on learning differences, behavior issues, lifestyle tips and special grandparents. I am honored to say that their latest fall issue has one of my favorite paintings as the cover (it is the painting of Hailey and her mom Natalie, taking just a minute to smell the pretty flowers) I was also interviewed by one of their writers who wrote an extremely nice article about Hailey, myself and our quest to raise awareness. Please view that here. Something Special Magazine can be viewed digitally, or you can have it delivered to your door step for $18.00 a year. They also have a great fb page that often has a bounty of good information and inspiration, so head on over to their page and like them. They also have a newsletter that you can sign up for. They have so many options to make it easy for you to get the resources that you need, this fall issue not only features me, but giving the fact that Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day is September 4th there is a lot of information on C.P. this issue as well as featuring Down Syndrome Awareness Month because that is in October. They also have a contest going on this issue and as so much more. If you or someone you love has special needs, this is a must see publication. A special thank you to Katrina Laygo for creative such a wonderful and informative publication. button150