For many of us, throwing a birthday party for our children is the chance to celebrate and give thanks for the day they arrived in our family. Whether we arrange a small family gathering or opt for a huge party with school friends, extended family, and neighbors, a birthday party is something to show our children just how special they are. Every child deserves this moment at least once a year, but sadly not all kids get to celebrate their big day. One mom from Dallas, Texas, is changing all that, though, through an effort called The Birthday Party Project.
When Paige Chenault was pregnant with her first baby in 2008, she was excitedly just thinking about the future birthdays she’d be organizing for her unborn child. As a former wedding and event planner they would obviously be beautiful! While she was dreaming of her child’s future parties she spotted an article in Time that showed a little Haitian boy who had been victim of the most recent hurricane. He had no shoes, no shirt, and was visibly in bad shape. The image deeply affected Chenault.
“I feel like I should be celebrating children who might not otherwise feel celebrated and using all the resources we have to do this,” she explained to her husband. But she decided to address the situation closer to home first, at a homeless shelter in Dallas. For one 11-year-old it was the first birthday party she’d ever had. For Chenault, the party left her feeling that the celebration was so much more than a simple party. “This is about connection, unity,” she pointed out in Parents magazine.
Since then Chenault has been celebrating the lives of countless children across the country, while partnering with worthy local agencies. Through the Birthday Party Project she’s been throwing monthly one-hour parties at transitional living facilities or homeless shelters for children between 1-21 years old whose birthdays have fallen in that month.
With the ethos “We believe that JOY changes lives, and a JOYful community can change the world,” the project has seen over 7,000 kids celebrate their birthday — and an impressive 55,000 cupcakes eaten! Given the way she’s put smiles on the face of countless birthday boys and girls, it’s no surprise that Chenault was named one of Toyota’s “Mothers of Invention.” But what might impress us the most is seeing how this momma-to-be was determined to bring joy to other kids before she even got to meet her own.
If you want to see how these parties are affecting both the kids and their families — while also gleaning a few ideas for your own parties — take a look a the video below.