One little girl from California got a Disney makeover most can only dream of, but she’s years away from even knowing!
When Emma Janes was born in April 2015, she did not have the easiest start to say the least. Unable to breathe at birth, she spent a week in the I.C.U. And because of a genetic disorder, Emma is developmentally delayed. In addition, doctors and family immediately noticed that her head had an “odd shape” to it, but they were hopeful that it would improve with time on its own.
However, by three months old, her head was only growing and the shape was not improving. So her grandmother, Rani Janes, who has raised her since birth, was referred by her pediatrician to a specialist at Cranial Technologies in Pasadena, CA. After two months of evaluation, they determined that she would need a DOC Band®.
Now, before you worry too much, this is incredibly common. Plagiocephaly (or “flat head syndrome”) affects nearly 47% of infants. According to Cranial Technologies’ website, “A baby’s skull is very soft and pressure from everyday surfaces, such as beds or car seats, can cause misshaping.” And in cases where it doesn’t improve on its own, a DOC Band® is worn.
Most of the time, the bands (or “helmets” as they’re often called) are pretty basic. And the children who wear them? Well, they are often the subject of stares and cruel comments. Which was exactly what happened to Emma.
“Taking Emma out the first few days … we got a lot of stares,” Janes explains to Babble. “We occasionally even had derogatory comments such as, ‘Those aren’t even necessary, are they? It’s just a way for a company to make money.’ I found that wearing the white DOC Band® made it look almost like a cast on your arm or leg, something medically necessary but just awful to wear.”
But luckily for little Emma, she had some very talented, very special friends make a dream she didn’t even know she had come true.
Her aunt, Shawn Boyone, is a Sr. Programming Manager for Disney Consumer Products and Interactive. When she asked her coworkers Ricky Taylor and Michael Bourne of the Disney Interactive Production Design team for help making something special for her niece, they were more than happy to lend a hand. It was Shawn’s idea to use Frozen as inspiration and Ricky and Michael took that suggestion and ran with it.
Working late one night after work, Ricky and Michael spent 5 hours planning, sketching, and painting — meticulously pouring over every detail to make it just right for Emma.
Michael tells Babble that he and Ricky decided to use patterns and colors inspired by the film and added glitter and snowflakes “as a nod to Elsa’s magic.”
Once their work was complete and Emma had her fabulous new Frozen-inspired corrective helmet, the reactions she received from strangers immediately changed. Suddenly, hardly anyone who walked by her didn’t stop to offer a smile and a hello (and to marvel at how “beautiful” it is).
“It has been such a blessing to have Disney help create such an awe-inspiring design for Emma’s DOC Band®,” Janes told Babble back in November, when Emma was still wearing the band. “Emma gets SO MUCH positive feedback from everyone around her and I believe that is only going to increase her developmental progress as well. It gives her an excellent chance to develop eye contact and social skills with others. And most importantly, I plan on keeping it as a treasure from her childhood. She’ll be able to look at it and realize how much she’s been cared by everyone around her.”
As for Michael, he is thrilled to have been a part of making something so special for Emma.
“It was nice to work on a project that was unique and personalized. It was rewarding to know that putting an artistic touch on a medical device could make such a difference in Emma’s life and the lives of those around her.”
Now, Emma is a year old and no longer needs her corrective helmet. She is working hard in therapy six times a week and has just learned to crawl.
“We look forward to Emma achieving many more milestones in the near future,” says her proud grandma.
Want to see more cool corrective helmets? Check out these 12 kids whose parents took theirs to the next level.