I am Julie Fraser, the buyer for Achievement Products, and I watched the Academy Awards on Sunday, February 27, as I have every year the show has aired on broadcast television. The show’s ratings through the years suggest I am not alone in watching every year — the fashion, the stars, the movies! These are all great reasons to watch, but I think the reason we are all so enamored of the Oscars is that the awards celebrate being the best one can be, a universal dream I believe we all share and can live vicariously one night a year through the Academy Awards. The same holds true for other award shows and sports championship games tournaments; they celebrate the best and invite vicarious thrills from the audience.
But it is the performing arts that hold a special place in my heart because of my daughter. Throughout her struggles in school with a learning disability, if there was a safe haven for our daughter, a place filled with joy and confidence, it was in her dance classes or on the stage. As hard as we worked to insure her academic success, it was her self confidence that concerned me most through the years, and dance filled that need in a way nothing else could. Watching her perform was always a time of complete peace for the entire family.
I was struck during the “In Memoriam” portion of the Oscars show by a quote attributed to the late Lena Horne, “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it”. And how fitting during this week of the Academy Awards that there have been so many inspiring examples of performers with special needs carrying the load well:
• James Durbin carrying the load of Tourrette’s Syndrome to the finals of American Idol.
• Zach Annar carrying the load of Cerebral Palsy to the finals of Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star.
• David Seidler carrying the load of his boyhood stammer to win the Oscar for the script of The King’s Speech.
• And, of course, The King’s Speech itself, the inspiring film about King George VI’s work to conquer his stammer, which is now the Academy Award winner for Best Picture.
At Achievement Products our mission is to help all children be the best they can be, and this week has certainly brought some inspiring examples of individuals striving against tremendous odds to be the best they could be! We would love to hear your stories of how the performing arts and sports activities have helped a child you know to carry the load.