This 1990 PA Message article found in our archives showcases the powerful advocacy parents and family caregivers do day in and day out! Below is the full text of the article.
It’s Our First Day of School Together,
by Melanie Brozek Stabile
PA Message, Winter 1990
That day, August 28, 1989, I was scared, excited, happy, and nervous. After over a year long fight, I was getting what I struggled so hard for. I watched my two sons, Eddie (9 years old) and Mike (7 years old), walk down the hill, get on the bus together, and go to the same school together for the first time ever! The whole way down the hill, Eddie jumped and saing, “It’s our first day of school together!”
I couldn’t do anything all day but worry. At 3:30 when they got off the bus, I saw two happy kids. A lot of the kids were saying “I hate school!” as most kids do at the end of summer. Eddie looked like he wanted to do what the kids were doing, but. he couldn’t. He loved his first day of his new school. I thought, “Thank God. We made it through one day!”
I has now been five months. Was it worth over a year of crying, fighting, endless frustrating meetings, speeches to the school board, newspaper articles, appearing on a local TV talk show, to discuss integration and discrimination against kids with special education needs, listening to horrible things being said about people with mental retardation and fighting that, questioning ourselves (were we doing the right thing for Eddie?), and the Office of Civil Rights complaints of discrimination against Eddie’s home school district? YES, YES, YES!
Yes, it was the right thing to do! Yes, things are going great for Eddie! Yes, it was worth every tear, every minute of work, and every frustration! I am so glad we didn’t give up, although there were times when we almost did.
Eddie, the only kid with Down Syndrome attending the school, is in third grade. He goes to a regular home room, gym, music, library, art, computer, lynch, recess and science with his third grade home room class. In his one academic integration, science, he got an “A”, a 93 percent on his first test! The test is proudly displayed on our refrigerator.
But more than that, Eddie and Mike are on the Soccer team and in Cub Scouts. Eddie is becoming connected, a part of our community. Wherever we go, kids come up to Eddie and say “Hi!”. He has friends! One of his new friends from his home room came over to visit over the holidays. Such an everyday activity for most kids, was an exciting and new adventure for Eddie and his new friend.
We still have to work at helping establish true friendships, but that will take time, as it does for any of us.
Eddie is happy and accepted as a part of the school and his community by other kids, teachers, and families.
To those of you who inspired us, especially Chris Grandy and Jason Kingsley, THANK YOU! To all of you who helped and supported us, especially my husband, our families, Joan Kost, Sharon Gretz Lasky and Emily Kingsley, THANK YOU! Every time we see Eddie smile after school each day, we are grateful to all of you!
After nine years, we finally belong again. We have a place in our community. Most importantly, Eddie has taken his rightful place in our community. IT FEELS GREAT! IT WAS DEFINITELY WORTH IT!! Eddie is definitely worth it! I would do it all again (but I certainly hope I don’t have to!).
(from our Historical and Archival Care Grant project from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission)