Why Is Sammy’s House So Special?

Conventional wisdom tells us to look toward the most accomplished among us for inspiration, motivation, and life lessons. We are seemingly obsessed by those who have “made it” and what they had to do to get “there.” How did they get to that “level”? How did they make so much money? Or more recently, how did they get so many “likes”?

It is also common practice for many to be influenced by the most physically attractive among us. We give a lot of attention to those who haven’t done anything other than simply be born with attributes that our culture finds appealing.

And as a result of conventional thinking and common practice, many of us are missing something really important. We are missing the opportunity to learn from some of the most special teachers on the planet. I was missing it too until I met Melissa.

I’ve told the story before in a prior article and in a TED talk, but when I met this amazing six-year old girl with cerebral palsy I didn’t know the impact this teacher would have on the rest of my life. She opened my eyes to something I hadn’t seen before. This little girl in a wheelchair was more powerful than most people I’d ever met.

Perhaps the world’s most special teachers are those who have had to face the biggest challenges and those who don’t get the societal benefits of looking like professional models as they do it.

When I first learned about Sammy’s House is Austin, Texas, I was struck by their mission to serve and support families of the most challenged kids in the special needs community. From care for infants and preschoolers, to grade school summer classes, to continuing education and support for parents whose divorce rate skyrockets due the unique stresses of a special needs child, founder Isabel Huerta and her amazing team work miracles every day.

When visiting Sammy’s House, I learned that the staff designed each class such that 75% of the kids have two and three levels of major challenges and 25% of the kids are typically developing peers. Why? Because the staff has learned that the 75% will actually push themselves harder to get closer to the performance of the 25% with a “reverse inclusion” model, while the 25% benefit from an optimized learning environment. Amazing. And while all the kids learn from Sammy’s outstanding staff, the staff was clearly learning from all the kids as well. It aligned with everything that Melissa had taught me.

And it became a no-brainer for me to donate 100% of all author proceeds from my book Be Chief, in honor of Melissa, to such a special place that supports such special people.

I also encourage you to consider three choices:

  1. Buy a bunch of books to help your network become more powerful as you help Sammy’s House.
  2. Make a personal donation to Sammy’s House to support their important work.
  3. Hold a local fundraiser to raise money and visibility for Sammy’s House.

Wouldn’t it be great if we followed Isabel Huerta’s dream as many followed Danny Thomas’ dream that started years ago at St. Jude’s? Who knew then that St. Jude’s would grow into an iconic institution supporting kids with cancer, and their families, with fundraisers across the country. Why not Sammy’s House, too?

In any event, I hope you consider rejecting conventional wisdom and common practice and perhaps thinking differently about those with special challenges and what they have to teach the rest of us.

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[One Response]

  1. Barbara Leatherwood | |

    My “whole Story ” is not known by most but it begins with a Cognitive test result that sends my son to Occupational Therapy ,Physical Therapy,Speech Therapy, and Special Education for his duration in school. Determined to not let him fall in the cracks of a complex world,I found and utilized every resource tool available to keep him moving forward,tuned in to what his learning style was and used it to teach him real world skills,but 20 years ago there was little to nothing available unless you created it yourself,so we did a lot of traveling and experiencing things and places,Watching Sports encouraged him to learn numbers and ABC’s. and colors ( Nascar,baseball etc..)
    Today ,he is a young man with a Servants heart and the brightest mind I have ever learned from.
    Our Challenges have mostly been a Society that doesn’t know how to interact or have the patience or tolerance to teach these bright minds , I have never raised him to think he had a disability so he never knew until he became a young man.
    He loves technology and learns facts really well, finding adequate employment has been a struggle and one day it occurred to me, I need help and he needs a job… so I have learned to implement him in my business.

    I am teaching him to look at himself through a different set of eyes and despite what the world says, He is Valued ! so the task is daunting at times but as I look back, all the sacrifices and all the tears could not be traded for what I see in this Young Man today.