Little people in Chicago mentor European child

August 11, 2013 7:34:45 AM PDT
Being a role model to people who share the same challenges can be rewarding for everyone.

A Chicago couple who are short in stature have taught a 13-year-old with the same disability the meaning of being independent.

From Eastern Europe to Chicago's Southwest Side, Laureen and Thomas Lash have given Diana new outlook on life and also an amazing summer.

"We went to the Taste of Chicago. We took her to the Radio Disney. We went to the zoo, and we also took her on vacation with us this year," said Laureen said.

Laureen and Thomas have hosted Diana since the end of June. She had been here once before in December for a month. She is now on her way back to eastern Europe.

Diana met the Lash family through an organization called Project 143.

"They had a child in their program who was a little person, and so I couldn't believe that there was a little person in the hosting program," said Laureen.

Diana never knew how to be independent or seen an adaptive home until she met the Lash family.

"She can do a lot of things by herself that she was not able to do before she came over here," Laureen said. "Our light switches are at our level."

"She is able to get in and out of the bathroom by herself," Laureen said. "She walks the dog all by herself."

"She can go to the refrigerator anytime she wants to get something to eat," said Laureen. "Her English has improved. Her confidence has improved."

This summer the Lash family took her to Washington, where the Little People of America's conference was held over the Fourth of July.

" She was quiet at first, and after a day or so, she really got in tune with it. She started becoming more social, taking part in the games and for the teams, and every night, there was a dance, and she wanted to go with the other children," Thomas said.

ABC7 Chicago asked Diana what she enjoyed.

"I like the dog, Max," Diana said. "We [saw] panda elephants."

"Her being here, she's just matured," Laureen said.

"Extremely proud to open and for her to have an opportunity to grow," said Thomas.

The Lash family hopes Diana will come back in a few months. For more information on Little People of America and Project 143 go to www.projectonefortythree.com and www.lpaonline.org


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