J.K. Rowling explains why volunteering at orphanages is often bad for kids.

In 2004, writer J.K. Rowling founded an organization called Lumos to prevent "poor, ethnic minority, or disabled" children from being unfairly placed in orphanages.  

In July 2017, the foundation sent a tweet encouraging followers to think before contributing to institutions that house children en masse.

In response, celebrity chef José Andrés proposed a solution: People should help out in person instead of (or in addition to) donating.


"What donors should do is visit the orphanage and volunteer at them, and if possible adopt," Andrés wrote. "We support one in Haiti and my family volunteers!"

Rowling replied to Andrés from her personal account, explaining how support from wealthy patrons frequently contributes to the abuse suffered by children in orphanages and why, despite good intentions, taking a more active role might not be the answer.

Disability rights advocates praised Rowling's advice.

While not all children are able to live with their family, Rowling says there's a better solution than foisting them on frequently neglectful group homes.

The author believes that working to end the cycles of poverty that force parents into a choice to give their children away rather than supporting the institutions that provide an insufficient (and frequently detrimental) backstop is the best, albeit more complex, solution.

In other words, orphanages address the symptom of a problem, not the problem itself.

An orphanage in Afghanistan. Photo by Noorullah Shirzada/Getty Images.

Several statistics back her up.

A January 2017 study by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health found that 80% of children in Cambodian orphanages indeed have at least one living parent.

Additionally, a 2012 analysis concluded that children reared from a young age in substandard group living situations are at a higher risk for neurological, cognitive, and behavioral problems. While well-run institutions do exist, examples of gross abuse and neglect are sadly commonplace. (Warning: Link contains graphic, upsetting images.)

Lumos works to reunite children with their families and channel funds away from orphanages and into local community services that support parents, making it easier for them to raise their own children in the first place.

Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images.

For well-intentioned donors, Rowling believes giving money to institutions that provide little support for children beyond simple housing and a baseline education should be the last resort.

Helping prevent children from going there should be the first.

True


Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.

Photo by Tod Perry

The first few months after having a newborn are seriously stressful. It's tough to get any sleep and your entire schedule revolves around the needs of the baby.

It's expensive, too! It seems like you're constantly shelling out $25 for a box of diapers and $40 for a can of formula.

So it's understandable that a Facebook user who goes by the name of Chris Blaze asked for a deal when buying a Samsung washer and dryer set of a guy named Dave he met online.

Keep Reading Show less