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photo Mothers of Courage
By Rosie Dransfeld
National Film Board of Canada

This insightful video is a tribute to dedicated mothers and fathers throughout North America who fight and organize for their children to get the medical and social services they need.

Bethany was born with hydrocephalus. At nine years old, she has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, autism, and severe visual defects as well. Yet she appears to be a happy, loving child, who is coping well both at home and in her mainstreamed classroom. To get to this point, however, took years of heroic effort on the part of her parents, especially her mother: "I can't even count the fights anymore," Marlene says today. In the first years, she didn't even know that government services were available to Bethany; she found out from a neighbor. "Personally, I think the reason they don't tell you about it is not that they think you're not worth it — they just don't want to spend the money."

After years of learning how to work with — and around — government, healthcare and educational bureaucracies, Marlene has become a resource for other parents experiencing the same problems. As she says, "In a small town, that kind of thing gets around." In the film we see her counseling the mother of a young boy whose teachers are finding it impossible to deal with his Oppositional Defiant Disorder - Marlene is supportive of the mother, who is in despair over the school's inability to cope, yet at the same time sympathetic to the struggling, scared young teacher, who frankly admits that she has had no training to prepare her to deal with a violent child like this.

This intimate glimpse into the struggles and joys of Bethany's family is frank about the costs of the fight. Marlene feels guilty that their second daughter may have felt neglected, and she worries about what will happen to Bethany when she is no longer able to advocate for her. Despite these concerns, Mothers of Courage remains an uplifting story of the best that can happen when parents, school, and community are able to work together to support children with special needs.

48 minutes
© 2003
Purchase $229.00 DVD
Order No. QA-406
ISBN (DVD) 1-57295-905-3
close captioned

Awards & Conference Screenings
9th International Conference on Family Violence

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Awards & Screenings

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