(NewsNation) — Paula Quinn wanted to boost the confidence of her daughter, Rosie, who has alopecia, an autoimmune disease that results in hair loss.
So, Paula got her a one-of-a-kind headscarf, made from Rosie’s own original artwork. When Rosie looked in the mirror her first time wearing it, she couldn’t stop smiling. And that is when Coming up Rosies was born.
Coming up Rosies is a not-for-profit organization that donates art supplies to children’s hospitals in “Smile Kits” so kids can make their own head scarves, neck scarves and superhero drawings.
“What happens is the kids can paint a picture on a canvas or they can draw a picture,” Rosie said. “And we will print it on a headscarf, a neck scarf, or superhero cape for them with their own artwork on it and they can wear it around.”
The purpose of this, Rosie said, is so people can focus on the artwork on the scarves, “and not your difference, because sometimes people don’t like to be pointed out in public.”
Rosie was diagnosed with alopecia at only 2 1/2 years old, so she knows how important having something like this is for kids.
“My husband and I — we are so proud,” Paula said. “We often joke that she has taught us more than we could ever teach her about having this disease and being confident and just loving herself unconditionally, which is a true lesson for all of us.”
People have made comments to Rosie about her alopecia, which can bother her, her mother said.
“Some people think that I have cancer,” Rosie said, adding that alopecia isn’t life-threatening. “I’m perfectly healthy. I’m just me without hair.”
Since Coming Up Rosies’ inception in July 2016, the organization has donated more than 1,500 Smile Kits to 20 children’s hospitals in Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, and Washington, DC.
Smile Kits have even made it across the world, with some being given to the national alopecia foundations in Australia, Ireland and Canada.
“It’s definitely something that we hope brings people joy during their medical journey,” Paula said.
The whole reason she and her family are doing this, Rosie said, is so people can be happy.
“That’s our goal — to make someone smile,” she said.