Birthdays are a big deal for kids — time to celebrate becoming another year older and enjoy being showered with attention. But for children who have been parted from their biological families, birthdays can be fraught with mixed emotions. Often, the children in our care are marking their first birthday away from their loved ones.
That’s why Upbring recognizes each and every child’s birthday — because every child is worthy of celebration. While birthday celebrations look different from program to program, the intent is the same: to show these children just how special they are. New Life Children’s Center, our residential treatment center for pre-teen and teenage girls recovering from trauma, illustrates this beautifully.
A Pop-Up Party for Every Girl
To make each girl’s birthday magical, New Life partners with Pop-Up Birthday, an Austin-based nonprofit whose mission is to provide joy, hope and normalcy to children in foster care through personalized birthday experiences. Every month, girls with upcoming birthdays pick a theme for their special day. The themes are as unique as the girls themselves, from the Dallas Cowboys to Snoopy to Star Wars.
Pop-Up Birthday sends the themed box, complete with everything needed to throw a party, and our New Life staff get to work. The birthday girl comes back to a decorated cottage, three meaningful gifts and their choice of a traditional birthday cake, cheesecake or cookie cake. Together the girls in the cottage and our Upbring warriors sing “Happy Birthday.”
Many of the girls keep their boxes, which are usually hand-decorated by volunteers, but sometimes a local artist is called in to give it that extra flair.
Occasionally New Life even holds quinceañeras, a celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday with cultural roots in Latin America and Southern Europe.
“Every girl at New Life is a gift,” said Lisa Brown, New Life’s Director of Volunteer Services, who coordinates the celebrations. “We love giving them something to look forward to and creating new memories together.”
Cake, Love and Normalcy
When we celebrate someone’s birthday, it helps them see they are deserving of love. For some of the children in our care, that’s a significant shift in their thinking.
Birthday parties also contribute to a sense of normalcy for children whose worlds have been turned upside down by trauma. At Upbring we always work to nurture positive memories and healing for those we serve. Learn more about our partnerships and how you can get involved with our mission.