McKinney singer Sara Brooke performs on stages like the State Fair of Texas, but just a few years ago she could barely speak. The 11-year-old had speech issues and was not able to talk clearly until the age of 6—but she learned to communicate through song. Her past struggles have motivated her to empower others and spread the message of self-love through her new campaign, Strong & Beautiful. She’s selling T-shirts and agate-beaded bracelets with the SB emblem, with 10 percent of the proceeds benefitting Girls, Inc. We chatted with Sara and her mom, Patti Muller, about the brand-new campaign.
Where did you get the idea for your campaign, Strong & Beautiful?
Sara Brooke: A couple of years ago, one of my friends had just started dance classes, and one day at recess one of her friends told her, “You shouldn’t even be in dance class, you’re terrible at dancing,” and she just started crying. I stood up for her—you just don’t go up to someone and say they are a bad dancer. The next day my
mom received a text message from my friend’s mom.
Patti Muller: She was so thankful she had a friend that would stick up for her—it takes a lot to be able to do that in front of your peers. We started thinking about [Sara’s] journey—when she was little we couldn’t understand anything she said. She’s gone through challenges of not being able to speak and not being understood. We thought, There has to be a way to help other kids who have gone through challenges be thankful for them and also be able to speak up for others. We have T-shirts and bracelets all about strong and beautiful. It’s a campaign where we can tell our kids, “You’re beautiful in your own way and let’s celebrate that.”
Why do you believe it’s important to empower others?
SB: I want to make this world a better place. Especially with what’s going on—people get bullied and people worrying about imperfections that I don’t think are imperfect. It’s OK to have imperfections and it’s OK to stand up for somebody. If someone is doing the wrong thing, you need to let them know so they can fix it. I believe being kind is the right thing to do.
How do you believe the story of your past struggles inspires others to keep moving forward?
SB: I showed that I could do it. I went through hard work, practice, patience and it has paid off so far. I’ve gotten further than I thought I could get at this point—everyone can do it, just like I did. I still have difficulties speaking sometimes. When I first started singing, I would have to repeat words and was terrible at it. I’ve worked hard to get better at what I’m doing and it just pushes me harder to do what I love to do, to get better at what I do.
PM: She went through in-home speech [therapy], she went to a special school for speech and when she graduated from that we still couldn’t understand her. It was many years of frustration on her level and on our level, because she would ask for a glass of water and we didn’t know what she wanted. It was very frustrating and challenging, not only for her, but us as a family to have to figure out how to communicate with her. By being able to vocalize her challenges, hopefully someone who maybe has gone through the same thing can say, “I’ve gone through those challenges, and I’ve always wanted to sing. I can do it.”
How did the partnership between Strong & Beautiful and Girls, Inc. come about?
PM: I was looking online trying to find where we could do it. I came across Girls, Inc. It had everything we’re gearing towards—helping the youth, helping girls have a positive image of who they are, following their dreams. So I thought, Gosh this is such a great organization—it would be a great partnership for us to be able to offer a portion of our sales to them.
How can the community become involved in the Strong & Beautiful campaign and help your mission?
SB: They can help me by following my social media, to be caught up with new merchandise that we may have, but also supporting one another, being kind to one another and spreading the strong and beautiful message. You don’t have to buy anything, as long as you just say you’re strong and beautiful and spread the word, you’re kind to others and you’re passionate about what you want to do. It makes me happy.
Do you have any new upcoming projects planned?
SB: Definitely videos—I really want to share a lot more about Strong & Beautiful. On YouTube I am coming out with more covers and stuff like that.