Blog Entry by Dr. Samuel N. Mathew, Executive Director
6 AM PST, April 9, 2015.
I reached San Diego yesterday by about 5 pm local time. It was a 3 hour drive from my son’s home in Lancaster, CA. I am here to attend the Council for Exceptional Children Annual Conference (CEC 2015). http://cecconvention.org/. I have not attended this conference earlier, but this time I decided to, since it coincided with a meeting I have with Dr. Maya Kalyanpur of University of San Diego. It all worked out better since my wife and I were visiting our younger son and his wife in Lancaster, CA north east of Los Angeles.
I was looking forward to this conference for one other reason. That was the keynote address by Mr. Brad Cohen of the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie “Front of the Class”. It is still on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8veT5QspylE. I was really touched when I watched it a couple of years ago. This is one incredible story of a young boy who persisted to cut through his disability, The Tourette Syndrome – he calls it ‘my constant companion’. Listening to his story first hand was, to say the least, fabulous.
To imagine that he survived all of the troubles - starting from his dad to his classmates, to family and friends - is amazing. He was misunderstood by everybody. Except for his mother who was his biggest advocate and she supported him all through. Yesterday at the conference, he made all of us point the forefinger in the air and repeat after him. “I will make the difference in one child’s life”. He recounted couple of incidences which was not in the movie too. He was hilarious. He got a standing ovation at the beginning of his speech and at the end.
For me it was such a unique experience because of couple of things. Firstly, because he is a survivor. The simple proof that with persistence, you can survive and be successful. Today he is a sought after motivational speaker, writer, theme for a famous movie etc. etc. But he survived through umpteen hurdles before he got here. Secondly, here is a person who is a special education student who turned to become a professional, a teacher. He says this in his movie, “I want to be a teacher. That is the only thing I want to do”. I suggest that you watch this movie. It will be a time well spent. It can be used as a resource material for students in classrooms, to sensitize people about disability etc. etc.
San Diego is a beautiful seaside city. I am staying on the 18th floor. But I don’t think I will get time to go around see the city. May be another time.
Well, today I have a full day of conference and then tomorrow too. I will keep writing as I get time to sit down and write. Till then, bye bye!.
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