HOUSTON - It's a refuge for children with skin conditions that often get bullied for their appearance.
A Children’s House for the Soul turned five years old Monday. The non-profit brings together kids affected by birthmarks and skin diseases like eczema, and vitiligo and teaches them to love the skin they're in.
10-year-old Izzy joins in on programs there. She is smart, strong, and happens to have eczema and alopecia.
“Sometimes people ask me, and they think that it’s cancer, and I’m like ‘it’s not cancer,’” she says. “It’s kind of like when you lose your hair- sometimes it can make you go bald, and sometimes you have to wear hats or scarves.”
Izzy visits A Children’s House for Pediatric Dermatology for treatment.
“They put on this invisible armor when they go outside,” says Dr. Alanna Bree. “They know people are going to ask, they’re going to look. They know that they have to be strong, and they just really want to be kids.”
Dr. Alanna Bree launched her private practice A Children’s House for Pediatric Dermatology at the same time as her nonprofit A Children’s House for the Soul.
The non-profit side connects families through meetups and activities like camps, and kids can also get emotional and social support.
“I’ve seen so many kids, especially with these rare genetic conditions, that they’re meeting someone with the same condition for the first time ever- when they really thought no one understood,” she adds.
The organization is run out of her office, but as its popularity grows, so does the need for a space of its own. In October, one opened up right next door.
The neighboring house near downtown was previously rented out as two attached apartments, but once they came available, Dr. Bree started paying rent to keep the units off the market.
She has already spent thousands to keep the place with plans to buy and renovate.
The new space will hold group activities and feature a salon where children suffering from hair loss can try on wigs and kids with skin conditions can try out makeup. There will also be playrooms, a kitchen for cooking meals together, and Izzy's future favorite spot, a library.
“It’s going to be a sanctuary. It’s going to be a refuge for kids to come and kind of put their armor down at the door,” says Dr. Bree.
Her organization has also launched school programs to teach other kids compassion for their fellow students with skin disorders.
Dr. Bree says the new space will hold similar sessions for smaller groups like girl and boy scout troops.
But first and foremost, it will be a safe haven where more kids who stand out can stand together, with Izzy waiting to welcome them home.
To help with the new location or to find out more about the programs, click the link below: https://achildrenshouse.org/capital-campaign/