As the founder of a long-time blog, my daughter and I have gotten many opportunities to travel and meet amazing people. I had told many friends how I wanted to turn the blog into a nonprofit, but I wasn’t quite sure of the proper direction.
Enter an opportunity that helped change it all: Jordan was invited to attend an event called Superhero Cyborgs through a nonprofit STEM K-12 curriculum organization called KIDmob. The event was hosted by Autodesk in San Francisco. A bit of magic emerged from the experience when Jordan invented a fun concept: A prosthetic arm that shoots glitter. She named it Project Unicorn. The initial concept was simple and cute, but she wanted the glitter to shoot even further. Luckily, KIDmob teamed Jordan up with a designer, Sam Hobish. Jordan and Sam met weekly over Google Hangouts to review design concepts and make it better. I documented the experience on social media, especially Instagram. Since many of my friends work in the journalism industry, one noticed a photo, asked questions, and it led to an online article in FastCompany. That article launched a viral reaction with the help of one of Jordan’s YouTube videos.
That first round of viral energy helped gain extra interest when Jordan had a chance to present at Maker Faire Bay Area. It led to invites to events including a presentation table and a chance to speak at an event hosted by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. Jordan was even honored with a special award at Walt Disney World. It was exciting to translate a viral moment into opportunities for my blog, Born Just Right, and my daughter. We had so many chances to help raise awareness about the opportunities that come when you include kids with disabilities into the conversation about inclusive design.
I was a little more prepared for the next viral moment. Autodesk invited Jordan to attend a media event for Kid Inventors Day. She shared her Project Unicorn invention to many media outlets along with a new concept she worked on with her prosthetist in Chicago, a mashup of a typical prosthetic with 3D printed attachments. That opportunity led to a huge viral burst after The Rachael Ray Show invited Jordan to show off her invention to members of the Shark Tank who were promoting a new season. Jordan did an incredible job and it led to a pile of new articles. It included CNN, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, Mashable, FastCompany, Huffington Post, Daily Mail, Hello Giggles, and many more. (I loved how Scholastic’s Dynamath turned Jordan’s work into a really cool math lesson.) This burst led to some additional opportunities (including two TEDx invites in a year for Jordan) partially because I learned a few lessons from the previous viral experience:
- Take my time responding to media requests. I spaced out interviews to one a day so Jordan didn’t get overwhelmed. The first time was during a spring break vacation. I also knew that the viral wave can last a little longer if media articles roll out slowly
- I was ready to share a fundraising collection of t-shirts to try and help our nonprofit. Jordan and I decided we wanted to give more disabled kids opportunities to learn about design. We weren’t fully up and running when Jordan hit a new viral moment. But we were a little more organized on mentioning the organization.
- Viral moments can translate into bigger things. Jordan and I had an opportunity to meet with literary agents after the national attention. We wrote a book together and by the end of 2017, we had a deal for a middle-grade book that comes out Summer 2019.
- When our content goes viral, I will not just give additional content to media outlets for free… Especially outlets that are looking to create social video content. I learned to say no many times when a newsroom or magazine requested images or video without payment. Jordan and I have worked hard for years. We do not hand over our hard work for free.
It’s incredible what years of media connections, years of telling good stories and an incredibly strong and confident tween can do. Even more incredible? Born Just Right is what I do when I’m not at work. Early mornings, lunch breaks, late nights are how I can juggle it all. I’m so lucky to have a family that supports my nonstop efforts and we are all honored to be a part of helping change perceptions and opportunities for kids in the disability community.