I am always so inspired by kiddos and young adults who are doing amazing things in our community and giving back! If this is your first time reading this series, make sure to check out all of the heart-warming little leader stories here. Today, I am so excited to welcome, Kai and Kai’s mom Karen to the blog to share how KAI BAGS was born!
Take it away, Kai and Karen!!
My name is Karen and I am sharing a short narrative of my son Kai’s life thus far and his dreams of the future. Kai was born here in Kelowna 22 years ago and his story is unique to him. Born with Trisomy 21 and the characteristics that come with his diagnosis are exactly that, characteristics. With learning and unlearning, we as parents see that every child has many differences. The acceptance of that truth is essential, so we can meet our children where they are at in their developmental journey.
As parents we have unconditional love, fear, worry, answers needed, and results guaranteed. We fight hard for the optimal outcome and advocate for the absolute best for our children. It is a constant life of “All The Feels” all the time. To be a parent is an exceptional gift and with that comes a whirlwind of everything imaginable. Having a child with diverse abilities just adds another aspect to the joy of parenting.
Kai despite his diagnosis as “severely cognitively delayed”, is living his best life. I could list all his cognitive delays here which are plentiful, but I am here to celebrate him and all his wins. Down Syndrome Awareness is to educate advocate and celebrate!! I have bragging rights, so as a mom I am taking this opportunity to bring attention to the joy of parenting Kai.
Kai has had so many memorable moments and some equally traumatic ones; He lost his dad when he was just a teenager and saw his brother suffer terribly and hospitalized multiple times due to mental illness and more. It was a devastating time for us all and a long time of healing.. it still is. The joyous times in Kai’s life are cherished memories, today’s, and hope for tomorrow’s. With each new day comes its own collection of moments that will be part of his life experience.
Kai has been honored to be a Cops for Kids Ambassador, KAI BAGS business owner, Model, Okanagan Lifestyle brand Ambassador, volunteer and so much more. We are excited to start KAI BAGS again and make it a small collection of offerings seasonally. The small online shop will give Kai funds for his future stability and to give back to his community. Our goal is to give to Mamas for Mamas and be part of their volunteer program. The opportunity to be inclusive, part of our community, and showcase ability over disability is always the goal. We hope to be part of the creation of a dream I have had where Mama’s for Mama’s could create a space to help navigate and advocate for parents with children diverse abilities from birth to the aging out process. I believe our community as a collective will support this vision.
Recently we were lucky to be part of a new adaptive bike program running out of Parkinson’s recreation. Such a joy to see the dream I had come to fruition. I am Kai’s voice, advocate, caregiver, and biggest fan. He is truly a gift and a light in my life. I will always be the mom speaking up! Kai is the most loving human and adores his life, his family, and his friends. He takes part in most programs offered here in Kelowna. His love for music, dance, song, water, hiking, snowshoeing, and more is infectious and inspiring. Kai is literally the strongest, immensely intuitive, empathetic, compassionate, kind, and soulful person I have the honor to know!!
Thank you to Jillian for letting us share our story on her blog, if you are interested in following Kai’s journey make sure to check out the links below.
Kai & Karen