Trail blazer...keeps on going
In the early 1980s, mainstreaming or inclusion was pretty much unheard of. It's pretty ridiculous when you think about it. Just because someone has a disability, doesn't make them incapable of learning. Thankfully, our society has made tremendous strides in inclusion since then.
Anyway, I was ten years old and wanted desperately to be included into a classroom that wasn't special education. I told my teacher this and she worked very hard to make it happen. Teachers weren't very welcoming or kind to me in the beginning. I had to sit in the back of the classroom and was basically ignored. Whenever I felt badly, the special education teacher reminded me of this, "Jessica, you're a trail blazer. You're making the way for others after you. You have an important job."
When I look back at my life, I understand her words now more than ever. I was one of the first people with significant cerebral palsy to be included, become a teacher, be a teacher, have babies, Ms. Wheelchair Penmsylvania twice, dance in a dance group, survive death of a spouse, be a single mom and then find love again. I'm seeing a theme and a purpose.
Tonight Jeff and I took Jason for a long walk when Laura was in karate. On our way home, her words filled my mind and set me in a new perspective. Unfortunately, many women with cerebral palsy do not have proper cancer screenings. Technology and the mind sets of medical professionals aren't very flexible with someone with a disability. I'm being a trail blazer again and helping others learn, cope and try. This realization that maybe this is my purpose from God to help others puts me at ease -- even a little bit. I love to educate so here I go.