Some say may say it takes a village to make a change, but there are times it just takes one.
Take Laguna Niguel second grader, Kiseki Yanaura, 7, who has been hosting "Kiseki's Bake Shop and Treats," to collect money for Malcom Elementary School playground equipment for its handicapped students. She'll have her third today after school for about 45 minutes; to date, she has raised $400.
"This is her own idea," said her mother, Sharon Yanaura Aldrich, who is also a fourth grade teacher at Malcom Elementary. "My daughter is passionate about raising money to build a handicapped accessible playground for her friend, Gwen. She met with our principal at the end of last year, as well as Capistrano Unified School District personnel to share her concern about the lack of a place to play where her friend can participate."
Kiseki doesn't just want a playground for her friend, but rather one that will include her friend.
"This is important to me because I've seen Gwen on the playground and she doesn't have ANYTHING that she can do except wheel around in her wheelchair all of the time. How much fun can that be?," she said.
Mom Sharon said Kiseki took her on tour of the playground last year to show her how Gwen, who has muscular dystrophy and has never even crawled, can't play tether ball, handball, jump rope, hula hoop, or even get to the big toy because there is a lack of accessibility, said Yanaura Aldrich.
"She has access to our field, but with kids playing soccer out there and her fragile state, it really isn't an option either."
Kiseki was inspired by the "Flour Children of Dana Point" who bake and give to charities. The two of them now bake on Thursdays after school. They then bring their yummy baked goods to Sea Breeze Park, next to Malcom, and ask for donations.
"One student bought one item and donated $40 of his own money to the effort," said Yanaura Aldrich.
Since the bake sales began, mom has purchased lawn signs to help promote her daughter's idea along with business cards.
They are also seeking volunteer bakers, as well as others to help them create awareness for the project.
"Obviously, baked goods will not be enough to cover the $150,000 bill for a new play structure that can include Gwen, but it is a message to adults and companies ... if a 7-year-old thinks it's important ... maybe you should, too," said Yanaura Aldrich.
Even school officials have gotten in to the act, Principal Faith Morris has started a playground committee at Malcolm to get the ball rolling.
More Community Spirit
In addition to baking with her daughter, Yanaura Aldrich is also the founder of PJs from Heaven Foundation. This is an organization that collects and distributes new pajamas to children in foster care, hotel families, and other children in need.
"This is in honor of my son, Tom, who was an LAPD officer and was killed almost 7 years ago in an off-duty accident," she said.
She began the organization on Nov. 11, 2011, and Malcolm also jumped on the bandwagon. It started the "Bring a Pair, Wear a New Pair" of pajamas to school just before the holidays.
"Our superintendent, Dr. Joe Farley, has allowed me ask other schools in our district if they want to participate in the district-wide event which will be held, Friday, Dec. 7," she said.
To date, 19 schools within Capistrano Unified School District will be participating.
"Kiseki and I wholeheartedly believe and try to live by Malcolm's motto: 'Making a difference in our self and in our world,'" Yanaura Aldrich said.
The web site for the foundation is: pjsfromheaven.org/