"Only in the darkness can you see the stars."
― Martin Luther King Jr.
Dear President Obama,
What a week: the one-month anniversary of the tragedy in Newtown, your announcement about plans for mental health reform and gun control, and the inauguration all wrapped up with a beautiful bow to honor the birthday of Martin Luther King. Congratulations and thank you.
Just like Reverend King, I too have a dream... and it is coming true. Four years ago, I founded the Flawless Foundation to address the public health and education crisis in this country for children living with mental and neurodevelopmental challenges, children who are severely underserved and are as good as forgotten. At the Flawless Foundation, we envision a world where every child living with brain based behavioral challenges feels flawless and is understood and embraced by society. Our dream is that one day these children will be accepted just like their peers who may live with cancer or diabetes or suffer from cerebral palsy. A lofty dream, yes, but a needed one for sure!
Mr. President, you have daunting tasks in front of you but know that you are not alone. This country is finally uniting and awareness of mental health issues has been catapulted to everyone's consciousness over the past month since that day of horror where so many lives ended in an unthinkable way. In my post, in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, I wrote that the golden way through this heartbreak is the willingness to grieve and proposed that we sit with the excruciating pain and let that energy fuel and support change.
Well, it seems that we in America are beginning to do just that and great power is being born from this place of darkness. We are facing this last frontier of civil rights, the discrimination and misunderstanding of those with brain based behavioral challenges with a new and virile form of potent action. A profound moment of gold being spun from grief was in your piercingly honest speech to the community in Newtown on that Sunday evening a few days before Christmas. Poised and unflinching, your leadership was inspiring to a nation in shock that knew that there was no other option, we had to unite to slay this beast .
The gift of working in the trenches for this cause is experiencing the hope that shines through the despair at every turn. Spending time with the two brain health heroes of our county, Garen Staglin and Former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy, always leaves me with the feeling that their mission of eradicating brain disease within this decade is coming to fruition.
I listened to Vice President Joe Biden at the historical moment of the launch of Staglin and Kennedy's One Mind for Research campaign at the Kennedy Library, where he shared the White House's commitment to brain research. And I attended the gala in Beverly Hills where these two men rallied Hollywood for the first time ever around our cause. I saw them standing at attention with love and fierce commitment born from their own grief, there on the stage next to Sgt. 1st Class Victor Medina, a war veteran who lives with Traumatic Brain Injury who was speaking to the room of 300 guests. That is hope in action.
The United States can do this, we know what to do and frankly, it is not that difficult . In just four years with very little funding, Flawless has impacted the lives of thousands of children. By training just one school administrator in the revolutionary work of Dr. Stuart Ablon based out of Massachusetts General Hospital, we can affect the care and education of 16,000 children. As the nation is confronted by the idea of more guns, more armed guards in schools, we recently learned that as a result of our educating over 850 professionals in New York, one thousand NYPD school safety agents are now going to be trained in this evidence based, compassionate model.
We know that our dream of children learning self-love and acquiring tools for emotional regulation is coming true when we read the words of a girl in a juvenile detention center speaking about the impact of our yoga and mindfulness programs.
"I think this program calms me down when I am angry. Also it helps me bring out my inner feelings and even though my body is locked away the program makes my mind free to think and feel any way at any time. This program makes me feel better about myself. Thanks for all you have done for me."
We can do this!
And as these Mom's of Flawless so eloquently articulate in this video below...If we love bigger and judge less,we will be on our way to a safer, healthier, more inclusive society. We will be one. Thank you, President Obama, for your courage and for helping to facilitate our dream come true of seeing the perfection in every child .