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West Orange Times & Observer Friday, Apr. 17, 2020 1 year ago

Winter Garden residents launch nonprofit for special-needs parents

Jason and Kara Cannon’s nonprofit, Abounding Health, was founded out of their experience as special-needs parents.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

While navigating the coronavirus pandemic, many have realized that connecting with others and building community is more important now than ever.

For Winter Garden residents Jason and Kara Cannon, staying connected with their community has been integral in their years-long journey as special-needs parents. In their own journey, isolation and loneliness proved to be roadblocks to becoming the parents their children need them to be. 

That’s why they founded their nonprofit, Abounding Health.

Abounding Health empowers parents of those with special needs by helping them learn to thrive through healthy, empowered and connected living. The purpose is to move special-needs parents from an unhealthy state of overwhelmed, strained and drained into a thriving, abundant self-care mindset and lifestyle. 

The Cannons believe through empowering special-needs parents in this way, those parents can enjoy life to the fullest, live out their big dreams and ambitions, and help their children learn to overcome challenges hindering them from enjoying a fulfilled childhood and life.

The Cannons’ son, Dylan, has diagnoses including autism, ADHD and apraxia of speech.

“We would just feel so exhausted trying to keep up with all the sensory things,” Jason Cannon said. “And it’s tacked on to a dual-income household with two full-time working parents, and our younger one, Ashlyn. She was a toddler (at the time). The exhausted, overwhelmed, burnt-out feelings and what they took us into is where everyone is at right now. … We ended up feeling isolated.” 

In mid-2017, that isolation came to a head. They realized many other families in the special-needs community were experiencing the same feelings of stress, isolation and exhaustion.

“Once we hit that point, we sensed God saying there’s a mission here for our family, and we can turn this around and create this organization, this nonprofit that can come alongside others who are where we’re at and … take that isolation out of the equation so we’re connected,” Jason Cannon said. “Once we are, we can encourage and help each other learn how to thrive.”

Now, in the COVID-19 world, the Cannons feel that Abounding Health’s mission is more important than ever. Just as they have constantly adapted their lifestyle and routines as special-needs parents, people worldwide are having to adapt. And now that they’re home more, they’ve been able to put more focus on officially launching the nonprofit.

Right now, the Cannons are taking time to focus on laying the foundation and building their community. Their first step is to guide those in the special-needs community to their social media page and discuss one another’s challenges to better determine how Abounding Health can help.

Kara Cannon is a certified health coach and is delving into writing to share her experiences and knowledge — from health and nutrition to finances — with other special-needs parents. Jason Cannon also recently began working on his health-coach certification.

“We want to start a group with special-needs parents to establish community and be able to offer that connection,” Kara Cannon said. “It’s being able to be consistent with quick things they can incorporate into daily life.”

“We want to hear from them and come alongside them,” Jason Cannon said. “People feel so validated when we’re heard. We want to hear from people who are hurting and feeling isolated in this space so we can write articles and do posts and quick tips … to be able to come alongside people.”

The couple shares many of their tips on the Abounding Health Facebook page. In dealing with COVID-19, their ideas and resources are shared to help parents take better care of themselves and their children, both special needs and typical.

“Getting in the virtual space is all we have right now,” Jason Cannon said. “We commit to being more active and coming alongside people who are really wanting that connection and community — to just be there for them.”

Danielle Hendrix is the Associate Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of Central Florida, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in world comparative studies. ...

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