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"Portrait of Spirit: One Story at a Time"

Foreword by Christopher Reeve

Portrait of Spirit Cover In early 1995, I was Christopher Reeve: husband, father, actor, athlete, advocate. Today, I am Christopher Reeve: husband, father, actor, athlete, advocate and person with a disability. My paralysis is part of who I am, but it is only part of who I am.

And so it is with the people in Portrait of Spirit. They are mothers, fathers, comedians, administrators, musicians, athletes, lovers- and people with disabilities. They are our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers, members of our communities. While this exhibit opens the door to what it is like to live with a disability, it also shows the diversity of people included in this group.

The people within this exhibit tell us secrets: how they are treated by others, how children react to them, what it is like to pursue daily life despite physical obstacles. Some of what they have to say may sadden you, but much of it will bring you encouragement and hope.

The importance of Maggie Holtzberg's and Billy Howard's work is the human face it puts on disability. What Holtzberg hears and Howard sees through his lens again and again is the amazing resiliency of the human spirit. One finds oneself looking, not at disabled people, but at individuals with senses, intellects, real lives. While many stories reflect grace and courage, bitterness and anger are represented as well. There is wonderful humor, pathos, and a very clear look at the society in which we all live, but in which disabled persons are often unseen.

As we consider the people we meet through Portrait of Spirit, what we must keep in mind is that the are part of us. For better of worse, they are part of the great community that comprises of life in these United States. Through there words and portraits, we acknowledge our difference, while celebrating our common ground. People with disabilities are no longer invisible, and many of us have been, and will be, surprised by what we see. As our awareness of the many Americans with disabilities increases, we must come to regard our fellow citizens not with pity, but with understanding. Let's take it one story at a time.

1996 Disability Today Publishing Group Inc.


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