This Exit, No Return
Using Art to Advocate and Empower Parents continued...
In the following play, “This Exit, No Return,” each parent expresses individually their initial reactions to discovering that their child will grow up differently. They voice their fears, hopes, and dreams as they describe for an audience the frustrations and riches of their lives. The piece is intended to be used by groups to bring awareness to the general public and to teachers and other school personnel of the perception that children with disabilities are unique and whole individuals. While this may seem an unusual medium for advocating for children with disabilities, it has been proven to be very effective. This play has been read in many classes for special education and general education teachers.
Most recently it was read as part of a presentation at the 2009 national convocation for Kappa Delta Pi, an international honorary for teachers. Each time it is performed, the reaction is the same. There are tears of sadness, then joy. This play is intended for parent advocacy groups. It can be used in community meetings to bring a better understanding and respect for all children with disabilities and their families. It is only 20 minutes long and can be performed anywhere. The direct words of parents are the script with minor adjustments for parallelism and logical flow. The words are eloquent and articulate. It speaks directly to and for parents of all children. The parents used in the article are from
Appalachian Ohio and have fewer resources than many families in urban areas. They rarely have been asked to share their stories. They are very generous in sharing their lives with the world.
A Reader’s Theatre, By Joy Cowdery
These are authentic thoughts from parents who have children with disabilities. They have given permission to use their words to tell their stories. I am grateful for their generosity in sharing with us what they want the world to know about their children.
Cast: Susan, Dee, Jim, Beth Ann, Jill, Karen
Dee: Look around. Look at us. Like all parents, we’re here for our kids. But in our world it is sometimes a world of dreams delayed, put on hold or tucked neatly into a metaphorical hope chest. Someday, it won’t be painful to go into that chest. To sort through the “what could have beens” and the rites of passage that never come for our children. Or at least never come in the expected way. It is best not to think of dance recitals, proms, full, flowing wedding gowns, grandchildren. Not now. We’re exhausted thinking about the next prevention. Preventing hurt, preventing harm, preventing chaos.
Sometimes, I cry.
Beth Ann: Sometimes I cry, but, not often. Often there are no tears, just life. Shock, sadness, then life and joy.