Aubrey, star of Variety Tales: Aubrey’s Dream, shares the wonderful ways Variety KC has impacted her life!

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My first introduction to Variety came when I was in elementary school. I attended an inclusive playground opening in Independence and was so excited that there was a playground that I could actually drive my wheelchair on!! I zoomed around the structures with my sisters and tons of other kids, and it was easily the most fun I had ever had at a playground. I knew almost nothing about Variety, but I knew that they had created this incredible place for me to play.

Before long, I realized that the Inclusive Baseball Field where I had played many seasons of Miracle League baseball was also created by Variety. In fact, the ball field was only minutes from my house. That same year, I was invited to attend a Variety KC Royals Fantasy Camp. It was incredible to play on a wheelchair friendly baseball field and meet some Kansas City Royals players. I still have my personalized and autographed jersey hanging in my closet.

Eventually, as I got older and wiser, I started to figure out that Variety wasn’t just creating wonderful places and experiences for me but making changes in my city for the good of everyone. Kids were receiving communication devices to help them talk with their family and friends, and others were receiving adaptive bikes so that they could have fun staying active. Soon after, I heard about the changes to the Kauffman Performing Arts Center, and learned about inclusive ball fields, playgrounds, and community spaces all over Kansas City. In 2021, I was thrilled to get the opportunity to film the promotional video describing the accessible changes made to Starlight theater! This opportunity was perfect for me because it combined my love of acting and being in the spotlight with sharing the incredible inclusive changes made to places I love, like Starlight.

One of the most significant ways that Variety has impacted my life is through theater. Many years ago, Variety introduced me to Spinning Tree Theatre. As long as I can remember, I have always had a love of theatre and performing. Growing up, there was never really a place where someone like me was accepted on the stage. It was hard to find an organization that felt comfortable working with someone who was different than the average performer. Through working with Variety, Spinning Tree Theatre had decided to change the mission of their own theatre company to solely focus on making an inclusive space where every kid has the opportunity to shine on stage. For the past five years, I have been blessed with the chance to star in many Spinning Tree productions-something I never thought I would be able to say. The opportunities I have been given from Spinning Tree have helped me gain an immense amount of knowledge, skill, incredible friendships, and memories that will last a lifetime, and I have no one more than Variety to thank for it.

My experience with theatre was the inspiration for the third book in the Variety Tales series. I am thrilled that I get to share everything Variety has done for me and my theatre journey, and I am hopeful that the story inspires kids all around the KC area. A goal of mine has always been to show everyone that a disability doesn’t need to hold you back from following your dreams. Instead of seeing someone like me and only thinking about my wheelchair onstage, I want people to forget that my chair even exists, and only focus on my performance. My dream is that Kansas City and society as a whole will continue to become more inclusive, and disabilities will not be seen as barriers, but they will be seen as small hurdles one gets the challenge to overcome. The Aubrey’s Dream book launch event was honestly one of the best days of my life. I was able to celebrate my story being told surrounded by all the people that shaped it, AND I got to meet my inspiration-Tony Award winning actress, Ali Stroker.

As I’m getting ready to graduate high school and begin studying for a career, I’ve decided to become a social worker. I really want a job that will help people. In particular, I would love to work with families that have children with disabilities. Every kid deserves to be active, be social and belong. As a social worker, I’ll help them navigate all the services and resources that can help them achieve that, and of course, Variety KC will be one of the first organizations I mention.

If you would like to purchase Variety Tales, Aubrey’s Dream, you may do so on Amazon HERE!



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