March 8th, 2006 was a day that changed my world. Jackson, my brother was in 3rd grade like any other kid in gym class playing basketball. In a blink of an eye, he dropped to the floor unresponsive. After a life-saving helicopter ride to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, he was rushed into the surgery room, in the effort of saving my brother's life. Later to find out Jackson had a brain hemorrhage leaving him on the edge between life and death. Three years after the initial event and numerous amount of surgeries Jackson began relearning EVERYTHING. A simple task like breathing, walking, and eating was a foreign idea. The right side of Jackson's body became paralyzed, but he never let his disability define him. Eleven years later he is a hardworking 18-year-old boy who loves playing sled hockey, watching television, and know everything and anything about sports.
I was six when the terror of my brother's accident happened. Why can’t he talk? What is this chair with the wheels attached he’s sitting on? How come he’s trapped inside his body unable to move? Where is my brother? His body is here but it’s only that not a mind, not a thought, not my brother. Being so young I resented Jackson’s disability and longed for a normal older brother and little sister relationship. I would miss the little things like being able to play outsides for hours on end. It wasn’t the same anymore Jackson was frozen in his body. My frustration became my fire to find little ways to start spending more time with my brother. I would come up with creative ways to play games that didn’t involve him moving and miraculously found the games enjoyable. Playing baseball became tossing a little plush ball to Jackson while he sat in the wheelchair, and laughing as he pushed it off his chair, communicating to me to grab the ball. We would repeat small yet entertaining activities for hours. Jackson now has grown so much and able to do things we take for granted like throwing a ball back and forth. I had to make the best of the difficult situation and learn to think outside the book or outside the wheelchair.
Growing up, I endured hearing many of my friends and classmates using the words such as “retard” and “mental,” that made me feel like I had a pit in my stomach. Knowing what those words actually meant it made me frustrated hearing them so out of contact. For a while I resented from saying anything when I heard people using these terms in fear of being made fun of or excluded. More and more I realized that my love for Jackson is greater than any fear of social rejection. I learned to stand up for the special needs community, and most importantly my brother. I became a much braver and confident person, unafraid to stand up for what my morals where.
Jackson teaches me something new every day and continues to teach me. In my adventure of growing as a person and a student. My leadership in using positive words, confidence, and creativity will be an asset in the classroom and beyond. Due to my experience, I want to become a special needs educator. I would be a different kind of teacher because I understand the struggle these special need parents are going through. Growing up with Jackson as an older brother has not always been easy, but his happiness and perseverance is such a positive influence on my life and other; I would never change it for the world.