Friday, January 24, 2014

My Name Is Molly

Yesterday was my school's annual Mardi Gras Diversity Day. Mardi Gras is designed to celebrate and include people with a wide range of disabilities to show that any and every one can become upstanding and productive members of society. Area schools are invited and an entire day is made of it with zydeco music, Cajun food prepared by the culinary arts team, a myriad of games and prizes, there are also local businesses owned and run by people with disabilities like Poppin' Joe's Gourmet Kettle Corn. The day is capped off by a parade around the high school. I am immensely honored that I have been a part of this for the last two years. This job, that I've had since August of 2012 has changed what I originally thought about people with disabilities and my appreciation and respect for them has grown a lot.

Each year, a main topic is chosen and presented at an assembly that includes the entire high school and our invited guests. Last year it was about Downs Syndrome and was very informative. This year's topic was aphasia. Aphasia is a language disorder that can cause a person to forget to read, write and speak. It is normally caused by a brain injury or a stroke. The reason is, back in November 2012, Molly Ogden, a sophomore at Baldwin High, suffered a stroke which left her right side paralyzed and unable to talk. Over the past year, Molly has had extensive therapy, multiple surgeries and was even in a coma. Molly has emerged stronger and more resilient but she still has a long road to go.

A local company, Sunflower Development Solutions, created a video to help get Molly's story out there and hopefully raise money for speech therapy through a site called GiveForward.  I have been fortunate this school year to actually work with and help Molly try to have a normal school life. She is so strong and optimistic and a great inspiration for others her age. The video details Molly's life before and after the stroke and is just really well done.

My Name is Molly from Brian Pitman on Vimeo.

During the assembly, Molly's parents spoke about her. Her mom focused on the medical side talking about her surgeries and the hectic existence they lived for the four months after the stroke. Her dad focused more on Molly herself and how she has always been the strong one and told stories of her growing up. To be honest, if you didn't tear up listening to her mom, dad or watching the video then you should get your soul checked out.

I don't talk about my job much, mainly due to confidentiality and it would get pretty boring calling everyone student or something, but it has been a wonderful experience. I am learning so much and my view of kids and people with disabilities has changed drastically in the two years I've worked here. There are times I complain and kvetch but overall I genuinely like my job and like being around the kids I'm charged with helping.

Until next time, I remain...