Started in 2012, Canary Kids is led by a group of Rye moms, some of whose children have been diagnosed with a range of serious childhood illnesses…
By Bill Lawyer
Started in 2012, Canary Kids is led by a group of Rye moms, some of whose children have been diagnosed with a range of serious childhood illnesses — among them autism, ADHD/ADD, mood/behavioral disorders, obesity/type 2 diabetes, asthma, eczema/atopic disease, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
After exploring various approaches to deal with the epidemic, the group, led by founder and Executive Director Beth Lambert, developed a plan to support the healing and recovery of 14 children and document the children’s progress. They are going to make a feature-length documentary following the course of the recovery program. The full project will span 36 months at an estimated cost of $5 million.
The initiative was spearheaded by Mary Toulouse, whose son was diagnosed with autism in 2009. The Harrison resident has been so determined in her support for the project that her friends refer to her as “Canary Mary.” Among the Rye residents involved are Eileen Iorio (Co-Chair Fundraising), Carrie Heffernan, Annalise Stack, Jen Leahy, Emily Keenan, Julie Barrett-Hanlon, and Aileen Brown.
The hoped-for outcome of the project is to let parents know that there is “light at the end of the tunnel.” Lambert came up with the title “Canary Kids” because, like the canaries that were used in mines to detect dangerous fumes, the increasing number of sick children serves as a warning to everyone that changes need to be made.
The goals and the scope of the project have now expanded so significantly that the group has renamed it The Documenting Hope Project and will announce this change at an upcoming fundraiser in Pelham.
To spread awareness of childhood epidemics and to document hope for recovery, the group recently teamed up with the Our Kids First Foundation, a nonprofit focused specifically on spreading awareness and support for families and children with ADHD/ADD, for the fundraiser. “Films To Inspire Hope” will take place at the Pelham Picture House on Saturday, November 22 starting at 7.
The event will begin with cocktails and conversation, followed at 8 by a preview of the “Canary Kids” documentary and a screening of the independent feature film “Sister” by David Lascher.
“Sister,” a film starring Barbara Hershey, Dan Lauria, Reid Scott, and Grace Kaufman, tells the story of the growing epidemic of ADHD, the use of psychotropic medication, and its impact on affected families. “Sister” premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival and won the Audience Award at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival. The film is based on events in Lascher’s life.
Following the films, the directors, members of the sponsoring organizations and films, as well as local health professionals providing treatment services, will lead a question and answer session.
Tickets for the event are available at various price levels. A portion of the ticket price includes a tax-deductible donation to Epidemic Answers (the organization sponsoring Canary Kids/Documenting Hope) and Our Kids First Foundation, both 501(c)(3) organizations.
To purchase tickets or make a donation, visit www.canarykidsmovie.com/events/sister-screening.