The Power of a Mom’s Love, recently published by the New York Times, moved and inspired me. It’s the story of one mother’s vision to create a better world for her son and without knowing it; she parallels the dream of another woman: Dr. Gertrude A. Barber. Laurie Cameron is the mother of Luke, a 21 year old with developmental delays.
When Luke was a young student, Laurie searched for schools that would treat him with dignity and respect. She often was called to school when Luke was struggling and the teachers didn’t know what to do to help him. After years of searching, she finally found the Westchester Exceptional Children’s School where Luke found friends and support. Luke flourished and is graduating in June. Now Laurie faces a different challenge, where is his place as an adult in the world?
Laurie had a vision: a community of adults with special needs working at meaningful jobs utilizing their individual skill sets. This vision became “Cultivating Dreams.” Laurie has now joined forces with Careers for People with Disabilities, and together they will works towards fulfilling Laurie’s vision.
Laurie reminds me of Dr. Gertrude Barber, who began the Exceptional Children’s Center in 1952, when children with disabilities weren’t eligible for school. Dr. Barber and Laurie’s visions are similar in that they both wanted a school where all children would be accepted and respected for who they are and given the opportunities to develop to their fullest potential. Each woman not only had the vision, but the drive and courage to challenge both the educational system and society in general.
Today, the Elizabeth Lee Black School (ELBS), formerly the Exceptional Children’s Center, serves children 3-21 years of age who are unable to receive an appropriate education from the public schools. The faculty of the ELBS believes in the mission of the school and works tirelessly “making dreams come true” for each child and adult.
It’s amazing to me that two women, with similar visions who have never met not only brought their vision to life, but in doing so, both women chose to use the word “dream.”
Laurie and I haven’t met either. However, we share the same dream for our children, Luke and Ryan, and for the children of the community as we work to see that they lead meaningful and productive lives. I know that Dr. Barber would encourage Laurie to continue her mission just as Laurie’s story encourages me.