back to school bid

Dear HBS School Teachers and Staff,

Now that the school year is off to a good start, I want to extend an offer to visit your classes, as I have for the past several years, to tell you and your students a little bit about my son, Calvin Kolster, about his disabilities and his epilepsy.

Calvin, whom I imagine many of you have spotted as he happily ambles or trikes down the hallways with his ed tech, Mary, is ten, though he cannot walk completely unassisted, cannot talk and remains in diapers.

I make this offer because I have learned over the years that Calvin is an enigma to most, and since he cannot speak for himself and tell other children about himself, he remains a mystery of sorts. I think we all know that fear of the unknown and of things or people different from ourselves can sometimes lead to misunderstanding and, in the worse cases, marginalization and cruelty. Fortunately, Calvin has never been bullied, though it is difficult to know if he is a victim of unfettered, caustic ridicule. The teachers and the students with whom I’ve visited appear to come away with a better understanding of Calvin and a desire to be his friend.

I also discuss epilepsy, which is Calvin’s biggest challenge in that he suffers regular seizures despite taking several powerful anticonvulsant medications that affect his balance and his behavior. Epilepsy is a pervasive disorder that affects nearly 1 in 100 people of all ages, and 1 in 26 of us will be diagnosed with epilepsy at some point in our lifetime. People with epilepsy suffer from its stigma, are often feared, shunned and mocked, even in this day and age. What I try to do when I visit classes is to help students to understand how Calvin is different from them, how he is the same and what epilepsy is. I tell them that, statistically, there are likely more than a handful of individuals, including students and teachers, at HBS who have epilepsy though it isn’t plain to see. My visits usually last for thirty minutes, more than half of which is spent answering the students' thoughtful questions.

My main hope in visiting the classes, beyond raising epilepsy awareness, is to promote understanding and compassion for those like Calvin who are different on the outside. In the past I have visited the classes of Ms. Orr, Mrs. Andrea Wilson, Mr. Shea, Mrs. La Point and Mr. Sullivan. I encourage you to ask them about the experience, and I hope very much that you will invite me into your classroom. If so, simply send me an email.

To learn more about Calvin and epilepsy, feel free to read, and share, my blog: http://www.calvinsstory.com

Best of luck with all of your endeavors. Hope to see you soon.
Christy Shake
Calvin Kolster’s mom

photo by Ann Anderson

1 comment:

  1. http://www.activistpost.com/2014/09/lesser-known-turmeric-compound.html
    Interesting new research on brain stem cell stimulation from turmeric. Curry anyone?