One of my best finds at SXSW in my +/-10 trips is Jen Lee Reeves. We met at a panel at SXSW 2013 and started following each other on various social media outlets. We started on Twitter. I immediately noticed how smart she is, and how she balances her family life with a life that is always on the go. I also do that, so her experiences often mirrored the types of experiences I have while I am always on the road.
Later we started following each other on Instagram. One day I was looking at some photos of a family trip and I did a double-take. After weeks (probably months) of following each other I noticed, for the first time, that her daughter had a little arm.
I’d seen tons of pictures of Jordan at this point. Jen had also posted about limb differences lots of times on Twitter, but somehow I’d missed the connection. I’ve always prided myself in my keen observational skills, so I was a little puzzled that I had missed something so obvious.
As Jen posted pictures and told stories about her life over the next few weeks, I had a giant realization:
I hadn’t noticed that Jordan has a little arm because Jordan barely notices she’s limb different.
This kid is really, really active.
She reads to her new puppy.
She plays basketball (this one is a video!!).
She plays basketball in a skirt and heels.
She plays in the snow.
She plays video games
She does gymnastics.
She swims with her brother.
She has fun playing with her brother on vacations.
And all of those photos are just from the past month!!
Jordan is not going to let anything, much less what the rest of us think as a deficiency, let her down. As her mom says, Jordan is Born Just Right. Let’s take a minute to celebrate everything that Jen, Jordan and their family have accomplished in Jordan’s 8 years.
When Jordan was born there wasn’t a community around limb difference. Jen is a journalist and had been blogging about her pregnancy, so when Jordan was born, continuing to blog about their experiences was natural. It helped Jen keep her head straight and keep her family updated on what they were learning.
After about five years of blogging, Jen started to realize she was really making a difference. For 5 years she blogged about her experience anonymously. During that time she found a lot of similar families on Twitter. In 2010 she decided to come out and accept that her family, and her kids, could do more if she got them involved and was transparent about who they are and what they are doing. She launched the Born Just Right Facebook page when she came out.
Some Born Just Right highlights:
- Jen live blogged when Jordan’s prosthetics were being built.
- Jen has Facebooked about Jordan speaking about her limb differences.
The list goes on...
As Jen says, Born Just Right is a sweet place. It’s informative, proactive and a great place to learn about ways people are living a limb-different life, whether or not they were born just right.
People often find Jen, and her family, when they are adjusting to a new life. She’s proud of what she’s done for them, but sometimes she wishes she could be louder. Jen has a full time job and doesn’t make any money off of Born Just Right.
I want to help Jen by sharing her story and incentivizing you to help.
How can I help now?
Born Just Right is a passion project that is making a difference. You can support Jen’s efforts by donating to Camp No Limits, a camp for children with limb loss. Jen has raised enough money to send 8 kids to camp this year, with your help it can easily turn to 9 or 10 (donate, donate, donate!!!).
How can I help in the long-term?
But I’d also like for you to start thinking about ways you can invent things to help people with limb differences. If we design solutions for people like Jordan, we just might make life better for everyone.
Jen has a few thoughts about things that would help her community. I believe these things will help her community and a million others. Things like:
An iPhone and iPad donation program where you take old devices and load them up with developmental apps?
Or figuring out ways to help with invisible disabilities as well as visible disabilities?
What if there was a special needs database to find resources wherever you live?
Jen would never ask for this, but what if there was a way we could help Jen make money of the public service she is providing to anyone who is limb different? How can we help?
Many thanks to Jen for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk to me. I encourage you to follow Jen on Twitter.
We’re both going to be at SXSW March 7-11, 2014. You *might* be able to find both of us at this core conversation: Fringe Design: tackling disability and death. At the panel Evan Carroll and I would love to continue conversations like this one with you.