Resilient communities are the result of a multitude of individuals independently seeing opportunities to make a difference and then taking steps to bring those dreams to life.
Brave Warrior Project, which provides enrichment opportunities for kids with cancer, chronic illnesses and special needs, is one such need-driven organization in our valley.
I had the opportunity recently to interview Wenatchee native Erica Moshe, the executive director and founder of Brave Warrior Project for my Art of Community NCW podcast. Her devotion to creating opportunities for these special young warriors and their families to live more fulfilled lives in our valley comes shining through. You can listen to our conversation at artofcommunityncw.com.
We are fortunate to have the Brave Warrior Project as one of several nonprofits who share space in the building housing The Wenatchee World. Brave Warrior Project is located in the former press hall at The World building which has housed in the past the Press Room Theater and Missio Dei church.
Brave Warrior Project’s staff and board will hold a public ribbon cutting and open house at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30 at 18 N. Mission St.
Moshe, who was an oncology nurse and now has a photography business, started Brave Warrior Project after her son Andrew was diagnosed with autism followed by a cancer diagnosis for her cousin’s son.
She and her cousin, Carrie Van Lith, dreamed up the Brave Warrior Project and their initial effort was supporting families who were taking their kids to Seattle to get specialized treatment not available here. Van Lith’s son was diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and every year they organize a photo with Santa fundraiser.
“There really wasn’t a whole lot of support at the time,” Erica recalled. They created Warrior Boxes to give to the children to support them.
As they pondered the needs of kids with chronic illnesses, they started expanding the mission of Brave Warrior Project. Parent education became a significant focus and they started bringing in experts from outside the area to help parents give their kids more effective support.
“We saw great number of not only families but (health care) professionals as well,” Moshe noted. That led to the development of parent support groups to create a sense of community and belonging.
Another area of focus was developing more opportunities for kids to interact in a safe environment and for music and arts programs that allow them to express themselves.
This past week, an art class was taking place at the 18 N. Mission space and the youngsters were immersed in the creative experience of painting. One parent, Chris Rice, who said her family had just moved from Montana, was all smiles as diligently recorded her son John as he created his art. Having Brave Warrior Project as a resource is a wonderful benefit, Rice told me.
In the new Brave Warrior space, areas are set up for different age groups. It’s the only intentional inclusive play space in the valley that I’m aware of, in which kids with chronic conditions interact with typical kids. This creates greater understanding, empathy and helps normalize kids with different abilities.
A safe place to play, learn and experience is critical.“Sometimes, depending on the diagnosis, it might not be safe to walk the loop. Your child might run toward the water,” Erica pointed out.
Until the program moved into the new space, their services and programs were run out of homes in the valley. Having dedicated space will allow them to run more programs and serve more kids and families. Last year, they served 120 families and this year already they’re serving 200. Riverfront Rock Gym opens their doors for these youngsters to learn to climb and inevitably everyone in the place cheers the kids on.
Brave Warrior Project has some wonderful partnerships in the valley.
Getting a diagnosis like autism, cancer or other chronic condition can be very isolating, Erica said.
Chief Fitness also puts on programs to help these kids stay active and develop confidence. Gateway Cinema offers special movies and the AppleSox offer an adaptive baseball camp.
“We know it can make a difference for our kids if they have the same opportunities,” said Erica. “We’re really just trying to bring those things to our area for these kids rather than having to go someplace else.”
Brave Warrior Project is committed to helping kids and their families make the most out of their lives and helping them reach their full potential.
It’s a real thrill to have such a wonderful program in our building. Everybody matters in a community and Brave Warrior Project is helping foster that sense of belonging and inclusiveness.
I’m thrilled to have this wonderful nonprofit in our midst her at our building. It’s such a gift to see the kids, work the with the staff, board and engage with Erica and her husband Phil Moshe.
If you want more information or to support their work by making a donation, check out thebravewarriorproject.com.