When an attempt to advocate becomes utterly terrifying!
This week I did something I have not done before. Well, that is not exactly true, I have written to the White House before. I have never written to the White House With a gift and a letter.
I have been trying to teach my children about advocacy. What is it? Why is it important? Why do all voices need to be heard?
I have heard people exclaim: “Everyone has problems, so why complain?”
That is something to consider, I guess. Was I wallowing in self-pity or was I considering something larger than me? So I thought about it. And, even though I have researched this subject for years, I did a little more.
On the LD.org website, they state the following facts:
- Currently 2.4 million students are diagnosed with LD and receive special education services in our schools, representing 41% of all students receiving special education
- Close to half of secondary students with LD perform more than three grade levels below their enrolled grade in essential academic skills (45% in reading, 44% in math).
My own research showed that LD students in post-secondary settings were at least 4 grade levels behind their peers. Additionally, LD.org is counting the students receiving services, not the students who have not been identified or the students whose parents have opted them out of services.
My conclusion was: This was not just about me. I had this fear of saying this message to a person of such importance, but I felt compelled to write, to make some type of difference, no matter how small.
The events that lead to me sending this gift are easy to relay.
I had been writing and writing about what it feels like to have learning disabilities. I wrote to Congressmen/women, Senators, State officials, local politicians, and anyone who I thought might listen. My goal simple! Well, I thought it was at first. I wanted to help them to see what I have been explaining and not just read my words on paper. I did reach some groups and I was even privileged to have a sit down meeting about it.
What I discovered is that we are seeing trends that bother all of us. These trends include the lack of academic progress for students with LD, even with all the money that filters into programs for exceptional learners.
This other discouraging information had me thinking about wanting them (those people in a position to do something) to see what I was saying. In a matter of seconds, I found myself printing out a letter I had been working on, grabbing one of my paintings right off the wall and sprinting to my local postal center.
I knew if I thought about it too much, I was going to put the painting back in my car and take it home. Beating myself about the head for my cowardice – sure no one would have seen me be a coward, but I would have.
I was nervous about even sending it. Who in their right mind sends a painting to the White House? I don’t know the President personally. I don’t socialize in political arenas and I have never done something so “strange” in my whole life.
I was terrified that they would hate it. I told one of the kids, at least now I can say that my painting got thrown away at the White House.
I talked to my husband who told me to calm down and my lovely daughter said, “It’s ok your fine no need to know all the answers. And who knows have faith, the painting may plant a seed and you might never see the fruit, but you planted a seed and that is something to be proud of”
Though she will readily exclaims she is only repeating something she heard/read. Her words were comforting to me. She was right, if the President never sees that painting, someone will. Someone will know that someone cared enough about this issue to send a visual to go with the words. After all, it was my wish to make even a small impact.
I will never know what becomes of that painting. I will not know if they throw it away or hide it or hate it, but I tried.
I ask you today to reach out and share your stories. In loving memory of a painting I will never see again, this post is dedicated to:
3rd Planet from the Sun
Beginning from the panel on the left… we see that on the 3rd planet from the sun, a girl is formed from the love of two parents (lower panel with the two figures). As this girl formed (triangle panel with the white), she bent over backwards (the red figure bending backwards) to discover who she was in life (the face in the center panel). Unfortunately, as she began to develop and learn, she realized that her way of understanding was wrong (the upside down tree that blends water and earth together in the top left panels). The tears leaking from her face represent her struggle. But the vibrant reds, oranges and yellows represent her courage to push forward.