Newsline Volume 32, Number 4

From the Executive Director

Marking Milestones

I recently read a column by Dave Stancliff , a retired newspaper editor and publisher in Northern California, that made me think about milestones that are important to me.

He wrote "Life is a series of milestones on the road to your last breath. There are good and bad milestones. We remember both with equal passion." Whether marking the anniversary of a personal event or one that changed the nation, these milestones cause us to say "It doesn't seem that many years have passed since..." or "Where has the time gone?"

Stancliff continued, "Excuse me for a moment. Nostalgia clings like a cloak when I recall all the milestones I've experienced. What a road! What a roller coaster! What a trip thus far! The road ahead, regardless of how bumpy, is something to look forward to."

Forty years ago in Massachusetts, Chapter 766, the first comprehensive Special Education law in the country was signed into law on July 17, 1972. When it was first passed it did not register as a personal milestone for me. Only after the birth of my daughter Amy did it take on such significance.

Amy, my daughter, born with Down syndrome, turns 30 years old on May 29. For some reason this birthday seems like a major milestone, one that in her earlier years seemed unimaginable. Of course, I always knew she would arrive here someday, but it seemed a distant dream. She is a product of Chapter 766. Now she has grown and matured into an amazing young woman, the recipient of a wonderful public education!

Another milestone popped up this spring as I mark my 15th year as the Executive Director of the Federation. Clearly we have had our ups and downs, yet the work of educating, informing, and empowering families is as vital today as it was on the day that Chapter 766 was first signed into law. Our founder, Martha Ziegler, had a vision of the role of informed parents as vital to the law's success that continues to inspire us. The Federation will celebrate its 40th year milestone in 2014!

Author C.S. Lewis once said, "The safest road to hell is the gradual one -- the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without sign posts."

Stancliff concluded, "In the end, milestones are markers of our making. People will judge us by how we treated them. We'll be known by our public works. We'll also be known by our personal relationships," Of those relationships, none are more telling than those we build with the most vulnerable children among us.

Celebrate your milestones, Celebrate our Children!

Rich signature

Rich Robison
Executive Director