Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

sha princess 3126 apr16 web Margaret McAndrew and Kylee McGrane, co-founders of The Princess Project, which organizes visits to children’s hospitals by college students dressed as princesses and characters, pose with students at Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden, where they talked about their program on Feb. 26. From left are students Alyssa Carrano, Caroline Berberian and Sophie Park; Miss McGrane and Miss McAndrew; and students Chrissy Chow, Julia Davis and Priya Patel. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

HAMDEN – Since graduating from Sacred Heart Academy in 2013, Margaret McAndrew has turned her passion for service and love of fairy tale princesses into a budding nationwide program for college students dressed as popular princesses to visit children in hospitals and schools.

She returned on Feb. 26 to talk to students about The Princess Project that she co-founded with Kylee McGrane to spread “some magic and a little bit of pink” among children who may be facing health problems and other issues.

“We volunteer at hospitals by bringing the magic of beauty at a time when a child just wants to be a kid,” said Ms. McAndrew.

The two entrepreneurs, who unabashedly admit to having loved dressing as princesses since age 6, have brought their non-profit to 30 colleges and universities, including the University of Connecticut and Fairfield University.

Already, The Princess Project is on target to visit 5,000 children this year.

“We are inspired by the kids we meet,” said Ms. McGrane. “We just sit with them, often on the linoleum floors of hospitals and talk about our favorite characters or let them take a selfie with a princess.”

The nonprofit trains its volunteers to offer individual, bedside and group visits, story readings and special events (visit www.theprincessprojectny.org).

“I found my passion for service at Sacred Heart Academy,” said Ms. McAndrew, who with Ms. McGrane attends the College of Mount St. Vincent in Riverdale, N.Y.

Expanding their message to the gathered high school students, the co-founders noted that while people face their own “dragons” every day, the way to handle them is by being “strong girls.”

“If you don’t keep your head up, your crown might fall off,” warned Ms. McAndrew, using the image of wearing an invisible crown of character. “So every day, tell yourself to be brave, strong, fearless ...”

“Believe in your ability to change things around you, and never ever forget your crown,” she said.