Friday, August 8, 2008

Changing perceptions starts here...

My wife just sent out an email to everyone she knew regarding this new movie, and I told her she needed to start a blog about her opionions and help voice the frustrations that people with disabilities face on a day to day basis. Here is a begininning to that... please subscribe and refer your friends and family as we are hoping to help change the perceptions of as many people as possible...

(Written by Kathleen Teal)
Dear friends and family,
I am at a loss today with the knowledge that acceptance is further away than I had hoped. I hopefully read and hear stories about kids with different abilities being voted prom king or homecoming queen or about a boy with autism scoring the most points in one basketball game in the history of that school. I am hopeful when I see that very boy being raised into the air by the entire school and cheering for him. I am hopeful when I hear about schools banning the use of the word "retard" as a form of offensive language. I am hopeful when I look into my daughter Avery's beautiful deep blue almond shaped eyes and she smiles at me because she understands how deeply I love her (she has Down syndrome). I am hopeful when I see her big sister, Mackenzie, stand up for her when she sees another child, or sadly an adult, making fun of her. However, today, I am saddened and heart broke when I hear about the future release of a movie that propagates stereotypes and discriminates against people with intellectual disabilities. The movie named Tropic Thunder was written by, and stars, Ben Stiller, in which one of his characters is a man with a cognitive delay named, "Simple Jack". On the very poster that advertises this movie the words are written "Once upon a time, there was a Retard..." My heart aches at the thought of so many young people, impressionable people watching and enjoying a movie that is so full of hatred. My heart aches at the thought of the reviews that are advocating for this atrocious movie. My heart aches over the fact that because of all the controversy that this has stirred up, Hollywood will see this as a success. My heart aches when I see a great movie with my favorite actor throw around the word "r-word" as though it were funny. My heart aches when I hear teenagers and adults alike using the word "r-word" as a joke or as a put down. My heart aches at the thought of all the work it takes to make a change and all the work it takes to undo an atrocity such as this movie. With these thoughts in mind I urge you all to make a choice to stand up for Avery and other children, teens, and adults like her that do not have the voices for themselves and, please, boycott this movie. I am not asking any of you to fight for anyone or anything. I am prepared and more than willing to do that. I simply ask that you keep your money in your pockets when this movie is released. Thank you all for your consideration of my fight. If you have made it this far, I sincerely appreciate your time.Sincerely, Kathleen Teal

I wanted to add a quick yet very cool inspirational story that helps me out on days like today. I read this on another website <> and would like to share it with you...

I was thirty-seven years old when my husband and I decided it was time to have a baby. We had been married nine years, together for sixteen. We had put it off for all this time in order to focus on careers, travel, fun, ourselves. My job was pretty glamorous: vice-president of a big publishing company in New York City. My life was filled with interesting writers, fascinating trips, sparkling conversation, fine wine, speaking engagements. I saw having a baby as something to "check off a list." Something to do. And besides, a baby would go so well with my new black suit. So I signed up for the Gwyneth Paltrow version of motherhood. The Kelly Ripa woman-on-the-go scenario. The version of motherhood that gets glamorized in People magazine. But in my heart of hearts, I was scared. Terrified. I didn't want my life to change that much. Still, I had the anticipation of regret and I thought having a baby would be "good for me." So picture this: parenthood, to me, was like a giant swimming pool. I saw other people in the pool and they looked okay. But I was hesitant to even stick a toe in. I didn't want to get wet. Other parents said to me, "going into the pool can be really scary. But it's all worth it." I thought to myself, "if they can do it, so can I." And, tentatively, I put my foot in the water. Suddenly someone grabbed me from behind and threw me in the deep end. In the deep end! How unfair! You don't take the person most frightened of the water and throw them in the deep end! Throw another person in the deep end, someone who's used to the pool! Someone who knows how to swim! "I'm going to die," I thought. I railed against the unfairness of it all, the shock of the cold water. But instinct kicked in and clumsily I moved my arms and legs. And I did not drown. Gagging and coughing and choking and sputtering I had a question: "Who did this to me," I wanted to know. "How did this happen?!" My head went under and panic set in. I moved my arms and legs more and I did not drown. Now I was treading water. I noticed there were other people in the deep end with me, and they were offering to help. But I didn't want to be in their Deep End Club. And besides, I didn't think I even belonged here, it was only a matter of time before someone told me it was all a mistake and I'd be pulled out of the pool to safety. "I should have left well enough alone. I should never have tried to go into the pool," I thought. And as I continued to tread water I noticed something else: I did not drown. Soon I started to float. I felt pretty much alone but the panic had subsided and I knew I could survive although it wouldn't be pleasant. And I did not drown. But then I noticed there was a little boy in the deep end with me, a little boy named Nicholas with eyes that crinkle up like half moons when he smiles. A little boy named Nicholas who loves Bruce Springsteen and Puccini's "La Boheme" and 1940s Big Band Music. And Nicholas could swim. Looking at him, I began to realize that I might be able to do more than float someday. I might be able to swim. And I might even enjoy it. Perhaps I'd even love it. I realized that the deep end allows for underwater somersaults and in the deep end, it's possible to dive. You can't do that in the shallow end. And perhaps someday, with Nicholas at my side, we'd both wave to the parents at the shallow end of the pool and say, "you don't know what you're missing, here in the deep end."

-- Story by JenEndyB mother to Nicholas (3/31/05)

-- Thank you for your support!
Brian Teal - Avery's Daddy

1 comment:

Jennifer Kuyper said...

Hi Kathleen and Brian,
I couldn't agree more with your perspective. The need for a greater appreciation, understanding and (perhaps most importantly) respect for people with sprecial needs is apparent.

Your love for darling little Avery will most certainly guide her and nourish her self esteem as she grows.

-Jennifer Kuyper

My son was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder at 2.8 years old.