I remember when Gabby was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy like it was yesterday. I vividly remember sitting in the Neurologist’s office and I could even draw a picture of the position each individual was in within the room. It was like time stood still for me that day. Considering she was only six months at the time, most of the words spoken about the future were part of a haze. I was focused on that moment and had to keep the mind set of ‘one day at a time’. When her specialist told me she may have learning disabilities in her future I couldn’t even fathom processing that. I was having a hard time dealing with tomorrow let alone four to six years down the road.
Those words came back to me like a slap in the face when she started elementary school. The roughest year for us was first grade after her first round of brain surgeries. I had to schedule an ARD meeting with the school committee for every. single. change needed. I had to fight for Gabby when no one else would. Within that first school year we had five ARD meetings that each lasted between three to four hours. That’s a rough total of 20 hours.
There were a few years that I actually believed she was wasting her time attending school. At one point her teacher even admitted that he felt he wasn’t the right solution for her. He wasn’t even equipped to teach a child with her level of disabilities. He felt defeated yet the school committee would not listen. There was times I even felt sorry for him, the teacher. I have been in over a dozen ARD meetings since she started school and she is only in 5th grade now.
I once asked the elementary school how parents that work outside of the home do it. How do mothers that are not available to drop everything and sit at a school in numerous meetings fighting for her child for hours get help? Their answer: they don’t. They have no choice. The doctors once told me ‘that is just life when you have a special needs child‘.
Won’t Back Down pulled on my heartstrings. The movie is inspiring for parents from all walks of life. Whether your child is exceeding all school expectations or struggling academically I highly suggest taking time out to watch. Private, public and home school teachers should take the time out of their busy schedules to really soak in the message being sent in Won’t Back Down. Jamie is a single mother that works two jobs and outside of that she is busting her butt to fight for her daughter. Sleepless nights, early morning meetings and knocking on doors of every other parent to sign a petition to help her start a movement for support.
My favorite quote from the movie: “Have you heard about those mothers who lift one-ton trucks off their babies? They’re nothing compared to me’’ actress Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character asks. Watch the trailer below and tell me… do you plan to see Won’t Back Down at theaters?
In this powerful story – inspired by true events – of parenthood, friendship, hope and courage, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis portray determined mothers who will stop at nothing to transform their children’s failing inner city school. Facing a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy and a system mired in traditional thinking, they risk everything to make a difference in the education and future of their children.