My memorable evening with Colin Farrell began with an inspiring message of inclusion by Bryan Neider. Bryan was happy at his job as a Senior VP at Electronic Arts, but his 25 years at EA doesn’t begin to compare to the experience he’s having as the CEO of Gatepath.
“In joining Gatepath, I saw an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself—to be a part of an organization that has made a remarkable difference in the lives of those in our community for more than 96 years.”
Bryan Neider with his Gatepath Ambassadors
From early intervention to job training for adults and seniors, Gatepath is a role model for “turning disabilities into possibilities.” Every year they bring the community together for an evening that shines a light on how our differences are what make us beautiful. All of us must advocate for inclusion to help those with differences flourish.
Look at the pride on Bryan’s face as Fernando Arce receives his Neal Poppin Award for his “determination, spirit and enthusiasm that transcends any limitations he has faced.”
Award-winning actor, Colin Farrell, came to share his story at the 2017 Power of Possibilities event. His son, James, was diagnosed with Angelman syndrome (AS). AS is a rare neuro-genetic disorder that occurs in 1 in 15,000. It’s often misdiagnosed as cerebral palsy or autism.
Colin Farrell shared his insights and journey as a parent in a meaningful conversation moderated by Bay Area Journalist Diane Dwyer.
I sat in awe of this charming, witty, Hollywood star who at heart is just a dad who wants both of his sons to experience life to their fullest potentials. Here are 7 of my favorite Colin quotes and the messages I took from them:
1: Don’t let other’s judgement take away your child’s magic.
“When I heard that word ‘cure’ at first I was kind of insulted, almost irate, as though they were judging my son, that he wasn’t he wasn’t exactly right, but he is exactly the way he’s supposed to be. He’s a magic, magic boy.”
2: Never let anyone say ‘never’ when it comes to your child’s abilities.
“When you’re told your child will ‘never’ do something and they do…now that’s an unbelievable experience. When my son walked at 4, it was a result of his hard work and drive. He has a desire to experience life, just like us, to touch it, to feel it, to sense it, to communicate it to others.”
3: Never let yourself judge what your child is capable of achieving.
“Be careful of judging what your child is capable of. You have to watch your child and give them every opportunity to see how they respond. Let your child decide what their limitations are.”
4: Don’t doubt that your child has a voice…It’s up to you to hear it.
“He may not be able to verbally communicate, but this kid has it all going on…he thinks, he feels, he knows exactly what’s happening, and he’s got a voice. And that voice is inside of him and I have to find some way that will allow him to let it out.”
5: Your child will bring out the best in you.
“By virtue of his honesty, struggle, persistence and his personality, James brings out the best in people. He literally saved my life. I was on a destructive path. When I couldn’t make the changes in my life for myself, I made them for James. He gave me the reason to be a better man and father.”
6: Your child will make a difference if only given a chance to contribute.
“James wants the same things we all do. He just wants to be part of the community. He wants to feel welcome and involved. He wants to give and feel love. He wants to play his part. He wants to contribute and add, not only to his life, but to the lives of others.”
7: Anything is possible when we open the doors of opportunity for all.
“When those with special needs are rightfully given the same opportunities as the rest of us, then the impossible becomes possible and each individual’s endeavor takes center stage. We then see ability instead of disability in every single person and we arrive at the solidarity of acceptance, respect and inclusion.”
At the very end of the conversation, Colin made it clear that it’s time for Hollywood to get on the inclusion bandwagon and give more consideration to those with disabilities. He had the same message for business world, saying that “it’s not charity, but a smart business move.” We couldn’t agree more!
Please join Colin Ferrell, Bryan Neider, Gatepath and Geek Club Books in our commitment to create an inclusive world of acceptance, respect and compassion. Sign the “Pledge for Inclusion” today and let your voice be heard!
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