Institute on Disabilities at Temple University


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#visionariesaremade - Mother's Day 2017

May 2017

Visionaries are not born; they're made.

What makes someone a visionary? Perhaps it's the ability to see possibility where others do not.

Eleanor Elkin reading to two children, an older black and white newspaper photoThe mothers in these photographs are typical moms; none would describe themselves as visionaries. Yet as parents of a child with a disability, each was transformed from mother to advocate. To mother children with disabilities means teaching the world to see possibility, not limitation, to amplify love not emphasize difference, to be persistent, committed, empathic; to take a risk for a cause she believes in.

vintage 70's photo of Audrey Coccia with daughter and a picket signAll mothers know the feeling of looking at the world and needing to believe it has a place for their child. By advocating for their children, mothers of children with disabilities imagine a world where all people have the opportunity to live happy and purposeful lives. They know what the future should look like and their vision inspires others. They prove that visionaries are not born; they're made.




Vivian, Sheila, Brandee, and Geneva

Studio photo of Vivian Richardson, Sheila Mcleod, Brandee Mcleod and Geneva Harris
Photo by Cecilia and Jacob Lee

Vivian (on daughter Sheila) She's a great mom, and she's a great advocate. She will look into your problems and really solve them.

Sheila Mcleod (on daughters Geneva and Brandee): Gen has lived with us for 30 years. She's our rock. She's the old lady of the house; she checks us all and keeps us all in balance. She's the check and balance.

Brandee has always been an inspiration because she lives in every moment. When I see how she struggles just breath and get to the other side, it reminds me to embrace every moment. She takes us to the other side; she gives us a different perspective. She let's us appreciate the good for right now.

Sheila (on mother Vivian): Grandmom...words can't describe. I'm glad I'm getting a chance to say this now. She is just about service to any and all persons. Teach it, show it - its going to get done. She's the highlight of our life; we keep learning and growing from grandmom's example.




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Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service