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Brennan showing us some of the books she has donated to her newly created Discovering Abilities Library section at Northstar Academy.

“Every Person Has Unique Abilities to Share”

One of the best things in the world is the knowledge that you are not alone— knowing that someone like you has been able to get through challenges and achieve a greater good. We all want to feel that sense of belonging, that inspiration from a kindred spirit.

Brennan decided that she wanted to share this idea with her schoolmates and so her “Discovering Abilities” Library was established.

“I started this library to help every person feel important”

Brennan attends Northstar Academy, an incredibly successful non-profit K-12 school in Richmond, Virginia that promotes educational excellence and career opportunities for students with disabilities who have academic, physical and social challenges. Brennan’s idea for a library that affords access to books about real people who have disabilities and their accomplishments was a wonderful addition to Northstar’s enriched educational experience.

Brennan has already collected almost 100 books!

Northstar Academy’s Cindy Culley and Crystal Trent with Brennan

With the help of her friends, family and teachers, Brennan has already collected almost 100 books! The selections have a wide range of reading levels, are both fiction and non-fiction and inspire readers to focus on the uniqueness and successes of the their main characters. Although the school’s library has limited space, Brennan plans to add more books as time goes on. 

“Brennan, through her Discovering Abilities book project, embodies the vision of Northstar Academy to empower students to develop and value their diverse abilities.  She has helped cultivate a community where people of all abilities thrive!”

—Crystal Trent, the Head of School at Northstar Academy

It takes courage for anyone of any age to step up and say “I have an idea that I’d like to try”, to follow through on that idea and to create something that makes a real difference. We applaud Brennan for doing just that and all at the age of seventeen.

That makes Brennan our first entry in what we hope will be a long series called Everyday Heroes.

Do you know an Everyday Hero?

Let’s talk with Brennan:

Why did you decide to create a Discovering Abilities Library?

I started this project because I wanted to show every student that many people in history overcame disabilities to achieve great things. Every person has unique abilities to share. This library will be filled with books, movies and articles about real life people and fictional characters who are heroes in their lives.

Brennan happily receiving and organizing the many donated books and videos.

Did you reach out to others for help to put it all together? 

Yes. I asked my family, friends, teachers and fellow students for recommendations on what to put in the library.  If they had a favorite book or movie that showed someone overcoming an obstacle, I asked them to share it.  Then I asked people to donate books.

What was the hardest part in getting started?

The hardest part at first was finding books because these libraries don’t exist. There are a lot of great books out there celebrating the achievements of people with disabilities, but at first, we had a hard time finding them.

Once I sent out the surveys, I loved seeing all of the recommendations and we found more and more! My favorite part was getting all the packages with books in them!

We did find a lot of articles and Northstar is going to use the books and those articles in its teaching to have each student find articles and keep this idea going.

“Brennan exemplifies that when barriers are removed for a student with a disability, she can leverage her abilities and a leader and influencer emerges.”

—Cindy Culley, Director of Admissions at Northstar Academy

 

“I hope this library inspires everyone to be the best that they can be.”

How did you decide on which books and videos to include? 

I decided based on the surveys I sent out and some of my personal heroes.

What is your favorite book or video from your list?

History is one of my favorite subjects so I like all of the books about historical figures. Some of my favorites are Harriett Tubman, Juliette Gordon Low and Helen Keller. They all overcame disabilities to change the world.

I am excited to read many of the books in the library and can’t wait to read “The Lady is a Spy” about a World War II spy who had a prosthetic leg.

What do your friends and family think about your “Discovering Abilities” Library? 

They think it is terrific.

Brennan with her cockapoo named Piper!

“Our daughter, Brennan, is always looking for the best in people. For her Girl Scout Gold Project, it was important to her that her project teach her school friends what other kids with challenges did to help the world. She combined her love of history, reading and helping others to create her library.

As a parent of a child with special needs, it inspired us that she wanted herself and others to be their best. Seeing the immediate support from so many of her friends, our friends and family reminded us of the love she generates and how one child with an idea to help can inspire … it brings me to tears that through her project she modeled and lived her library goal of showing how someone can overcome challenges to make the world better. 



We have heard from so many people that Brennan’s library has inspired them to be better people and that she called their attention to see the world through her eyes and find these inspiring stories. One friend shared, “Brennan’s work is so important in showing how we are all differently abled people!” We are so proud of her library and hope all schools start teaching her message.”

—Brennan’s Parents, Dan and Amy

Do you think every school should have a “Discovering Abilities” Library? 

Absolutely – this library will help every student learn about what people with disabilities can do. I think every school should have these books. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I started this library to help every person feel important.  I hope people enjoy reading the books in this library and it helps them discover their abilities. I would love for everyone to see the list we gathered and have attached a list.

Print a Copy of Brennan’s Book List

 

“Brennan has truly taken the seed of an idea and made it a reality. When she first asked me to be her advisor, I accepted without knowing what the project would entail. She came to me later and said ” I want to make a library for everyone to be able to find out about disabilities” and it blew me away. Brennan has always been a compassionate young lady but the amount of effort she put into finding a book for everyone is inspiring. This idea and students like Brennan are the reason I love my job!”

—Lauren Pastore, Teacher at Norhtstar and Brennan’s Faculty Advisor for her Gold Project

Hey Brennan, what makes you laugh?

Funny jokes, movies

Do you have a pet?

I have a cockapoo named Piper!

Which is your favorite…Cake, Pie or Ice Cream?

Ice cream!!!

 

Want to help?

Join Brennan in supporting Northstar Academy 

Know an Everyday Hero?

  Someone who gives of themselves for the greater good of others?

Someone who is helpful, inspirational or courageous? Young, old, furry, individuals, groups … 

Tell us about them! 

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