The Shadow Project Story

Our Story


The day 2nd grader Alex came home from school hugging a Garfield stuffed animal changed his life, and the lives of thousands of children like him.


Dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder made school hard for Alex. Every day he struggled to read, focus, and follow directions. But he’d stuck with it, earning a thrifted stuffed cat from his special education teacher. Alex beamed with pride.


Little did he know that disaster would strike. His puppy Shadow chewed up Garfield. Alex’s mom, Christy, offered to buy him a new stuffed animal.


“It wouldn’t be the same! Garfield was special because I earned him,” Alex said.


Those words were a wake up call for Alex’s mom. She’d been feeling helpless, watching her son’s spirit erode every time he picked up a book. Now she saw determination, courage, and pride of accomplishment.


So she worked with her son’s special ed teacher to create a program that celebrates the strengths of kids who learn differently. Alex named the program after this dog.


Since then, The Shadow Project has helped over 15,000 children discover they are capable and courageous learners.


Click here to see the award winning children’s book based on Alex’s story.

the shadow project story
shadow and alex the shadow project story
Christy Scattarella founder

For over 20 years...

Founder Christy Scattarella was a champion for children who learn differently, expanding the organization from just one classroom to over 50 schools.

Did you know?

Shadow’s photo hangs in special education classrooms, reminding children to believe in themselves.


The Shadow Project has evolved from an all volunteer “mom and pup” operation to a 501(c)3 nonprofit partnered with schools in multiple Oregon counties. The organization has three proven programs that celebrate the inherent worth of every child.
  • The Boy Who Learned Upside Down is an award winning children’s book based on Alex’s story. Special education teachers use the book in their classrooms to inspire their students to set goals and manifest their innate courage.
  • The Harvard Business School Association of Oregon found that every $1 invested in The Shadow Project returns $26 in benefits to students and the community.
  • Alex graduated from college and has a successful career in sales. He continues to visit classrooms to encourage students to follow their dreams.


The Boy Who Learned Upside Down is based on the true story of Alex’s courageous journey to success in the classroom. Proceeds from sales of the book support The Shadow Project.
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The Shadow Project is dedicated to making school more accessible and engaging for children with learning challenges, so they can achieve their full potential.

Working together, we can end the bias and low expectations that are the barriers to their success. Let’s make school a place where all children can thrive and belong.

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