In some ways, Sasha Bogosian is like many 11-year-old girls you might meet. “I love unicorns and rainbows. My favorite colors are the rainbow colors. I like going to the movies with my friends. I like having sleepovers, going to museums, playing with my dog,” she tells me enthusiastically when we chat on the phone.
Sasha has also turned a challenge most 11-year-olds don’t face – motor difficulties caused by her cerebral palsy – into something that makes her truly stand out: The Sasha Project LA.
Cerebral palsy, or CP, is the most common motor disability of childhood, causing difficulty with movement and balance. In Sasha’s case, it affects her right hand and foot, and she has undergone treatment since birth at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. That includes ongoing physical and occupational therapy and, when she was 9, major leg surgery to correct her body’s alignment.
It was when the family was facing that surgery that Sasha’s mom, Isabell, had an idea that launched Sasha’s passion project. With Sasha in an ankle-to-hip cast for 60 days, Isabell encouraged her to paint on Levi’s. “This was our way of finding activities that were bimanual, to get her to use her challenged side,” Isabell says. “Painting things, she forgets that her challenged side isn’t working as well.”
What Sasha didn’t forget was the help she and other patients have received through the Mark Taper-Johnny Mercer Artists Program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where patients and their families get a chance to express themselves through drama, dance, visual art and music. With help from her mom, Sasha began to sell the customized jeans and jackets she painted and in 2016 founded the nonprofit The Sasha Project LA, with proceeds benefiting the artists program. All of her colorful splatter-painted pieces feature three hearts to represent “healing through art.”
“That program needs money to help the patients feel better,” Sasha says, with her mom adding that the Mercer program is solely funded by philanthropic efforts. “Without these donations, programs like this can’t survive,” Isabell says.
Sasha’s celebrity supporters include Kristen Bell, Jessica Biel, Rachel Zoe, Chris Pine, Luke Bryan and Lily Aldridge, and she and Isabell star together in the Children’s Miracle Network series “Real Moms,” a web series that features 10 moms across the country who bond through raising children with life-altering medical conditions. In October, Sasha and her fashions were featured in Rock the Runway, a celebrity fashion show hosted by Paris Hilton to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network.
Though it’s now a fundraising effort, Sasha, who prefers denim to plain old paper or canvas, still finds plenty of fun in her art. “It’s more fun painting on jeans than something else,” she says. “People get to wear my artwork now.” Through her Splatter Squad, she’s also giving other kids the chance to join in her efforts. “I am looking for kids to help me raise money for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles,” she says, adding that squad members can run lemonade stands, make art, host bake sales or find other creative ways to pitch in. “They can do whatever they want to raise money.”
Meanwhile, Sasha will keep creating. Talking to this energetic, enthusiastic tween, it’s easy to forget the ongoing challenges she faces. “It’s hard sometimes, but CP kids are strong and love to work hard,” Sasha says.
She also has a message for kids out there facing challenges of their own: “Don’t give up. You’ve got this!”
Learn more about The Sasha Project LA, shop Sasha’s designs and find out about joining The Splatter Squad at thesashaprojectla.org.