Newsline Volume 34, Number 1

The Power of One Parent

By Maggie Wurm, Western Regional Coordinator, Family TIES of Massachusetts at FCSN

"I wouldn't change my daughter for the world but I would change the world for my daughter."

(The author is unknown, but I would like to say thank you
for letting me borrow this powerful message.)

As the parent of a young teenager and a daughter who has Rett Syndrome, it's easy to know why I live a crazy life. But as the saying goes, it's the world that is the problem. Change can come easily, when you know where to start, not that it always will. Recently, a lot of change came to us, overwhelming but worth it in the long run. You see, I realized that change had to start with me. I know, who has time as a special needs parent? I had to find the time and remembered that "Multi-Talented" is my middle name.

Becoming active in my community was a new experience for me, having grown up in a military family and living all around the world. Recently, I had an opportunity to try out a new experience with our new hometown, a chance to make it better for both of my children and the community around us.

When we first moved here, I found that taking my daughter to the playground was challenging because she couldn't access a lot of the equipment. I called our local Recreation Department. My timing was perfect; the town was thinking of renovating and including a handicapped-accessible playground, but they needed community involvement. Monthly meetings were doable, so I just joined in. It was amazing to see the birth of our beautiful playground and to actually build it from scratch! I felt like I was part of the community and my daughter, too. The best part, volunteers working together for two days to build this playground, filled my eyes and my heart. We belonged and we mattered.

With that good experience under my belt, I wondered what other opportunities were out there In looking at our town website, I was astonished to find that we have a Commission on Disability! Who are they and what do they do? My emotions were stirred when I called and chatted with the sweetest man ever. It was like we were two long-lost friends. He was just as curious about my work at Family TIES as I was in the board. I attended their next meeting and gave my ideas as a parent, not a professional, on simple ways to accommodate people with disabilities in community activities. The members were kind and in awe of my knowledge of resources and information. I felt like a rock star. To my surprise, the Chair asked if I would consider joining the board. They are interested in learning ways to develop and create opportunities for people with disabilities in our community, stated that they had no parent representation, and felt this was a great fit. So did I! I have a new monthly commitment and am thrilled and honored.

So you see, change can happen unexpectedly and simply, starting with a phone call. Like my inspiring message, "changing the world for my daughter," even if it is in small baby steps; well, at least we are going in the right direction! I would encourage you to make a call, get involved in your local community, and help to make your town a place you're proud to call "HOME."