Written by: Edward Rhodes & Stephanie Holland
Originally posted April 8, 2015 on The Road We’ve Shared
Today we look at grassroots advocacy and what can happen when – as Margaret Mead said and fictional President Bartlett borrowed- a small group of people become committed to change.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
Our guest blogger today, put down his camera long enough to write about the process of making “Justice For Ethan – The Movie” and what he sees as #EthansLegacy.
Over the past year and a half this project has taken on a life of it’s own. Documenting the progress and momentum created by advocates and legislators in Maryland has been incredibly rewarding. The search for answers has taken the place of accountability working toward addressing the lack of training our civil servants receive on how to interact with people with disabilities.
Two years later we are attending hearings in Annapolis, witnessing a unanimous vote in the Maryland state senate. Today we wait to find out if a modified Ethan’s Law will be ratified.
As a film maker, you can try and predict what impact your work will have on it’s viewers. I could never have predicted the scope of this project when I began. I can say with certainty that this has been an extremely emotional piece to work on. Reliving the events over and over as a symptom of the process can be extremely stressful.
In Memory of Justice For Ethan SaylorWorld Down Syndrome Day
I believe this story has or is on its way to a happy ending. I want the audience to feel inspired by Patti’s strength and ultimately I hope people see the film as an example of how advocacy can evolve from grass roots to legislation. My dream for this film is to be seen as more than just a reference of a tragedy or a piece of informative entertainment. I think it has the potential to educate and introduce people to disability through the idea of equality.
It seems like we, as Americans, like toevoke our civil rights and point out the violations, but in all honesty most Americans only feel like those rights apply to themselves and not our neighbors with disability. Now is the time to include and make the necessary accommodations to make sure we and those with disabilities are safe and have access to the same amenities as everyone.
Everyone can benefit from this type of training because it teaches compassion and patience along side communication tools that can be beneficial in many situations.
Today for World Down Syndrome Day, one of our Random Acts of Kindness was bringing tomato pie and articles about Ethan…
Patti’s story and this film may have begun with the death of her son Ethan, but it did not and will not end there. She is an example of modern day Heroism, fighting against some of societies most formidable adversaries, bureaucracy and injustice.
Just because Ethan died in that theater does not mean that it was the most important moment of his life. He gave people happiness that in turn sparked a revolution. His legacy is something remarkable and inspiring but his killers have so far avoided accountability. As a society we have the power to use this example, to motivate change, and become more inclusive and compassionate as a whole.