Sep 11, 2017

Women Helping Women partners with The Nora Project to help with teaching the skill of empathy

What does it mean to be normal? What does it mean to be a good friend? Why do we share our stories? These questions are currently being explored and discussed in Chicagoland elementary school classrooms that are engaged with The Nora Project, a curriculum tailored to spark friendships between typically developing children and those with disabilities, known as Nora Friends.

The Nora Project modules help children learn to empathize with their Nora Friend who, in some ways, is vastly different from them. From this experience they are able to see and consider different perspectives as they continue through life, finding common ground in situations where it seems, at first, not to exist.

Nora is the inspiration behind The Nora Project—she was born prematurely and underwent several surgeries during the first year of her life. Due to complications in her fourth surgery, Nora was left with severe brain damage, intractable epilepsy and profound developmental delays.

“The Nora Project works to teach empathy between students and their peers who have complex medical, physical or developmental challenges, like my daughter Nora,” said Lauren Schrero, president of The Nora Project. “When we first realized how different Nora would be from her peers, I feared that others wouldn’t see in her the sweet, heroic, funny child we do. I was so worried she wouldn’t have friends.”

Chuhak & Tecson, P.C. principal Kimberly T. Boike brought the awareness of The Nora Project to the firm’s Women Helping Women (WHW) group and will introduce Schrero at the event.

“When I first met Lauren, it was clear how incredibly passionate she was about The Nora Project, which helped to spark The Nora Project’s expansion to 30 classrooms in a very short period of time,” said Boike. “I hope that by raising awareness of their mission at our event we can help them continue to grow so that the next generation of children will be taught the importance of empathy, kindness and acceptance.”

WHW chose The Nora Project as the charity partner for its 2017 Mix-and-Mingle on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at Rivers Restaurant.

An after-hours networking group hosted by the women attorneys, WHW offers professional women the opportunity to build their businesses and participate in charitable service at the same time. Over wine and hors d’oeuvres, each Mix-and-Mingle highlights a different nonprofit agency serving women or women and their children and invites attendees to come alongside them in practical ways.

Attendees for the upcoming fall event are encouraged to bring new, used or refurbished iPads or cash gift cards that will be placed in a pool to buy new iPads, or they can bring other school supplies needed for classroom activities with Nora Friends.

“The Nora Project has such an incredible mission that really resonates with students, parents and teachers,” said Boike. “The curriculum fosters social inclusion by creating a learning environment that focuses on empathy and kindness, which helps to build friendships between students and their peers with disabilities.”

The fall Mix-and-Mingle takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. at Rivers Restaurant, 30 S. Wacker Dr. If you would like to receive an invitation, please contact Brittany LaMantia at