When Illinois "Mama Bear" Kristin Paxton discovered her son, Mason, had dyslexia, she made it her mission to help connect him with other kids who shared similar academic challenges. That's when she started the Dyslexia Buddy Network, a rapidly expanding group serving kids throughout Illinois.
Here's how they describe themselves:
We are children in Illinois with dyslexia who are smart, capable, and talented. We are artists, musicians, debaters, hockey players, chess champions, swimmers, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts. We are ages six through fifteen, so far. We have thought for many years that we were the only kids going through this. We have believed for too many years that we are not smart. We are children who are terrified of being asked to read aloud. We are children that work harder than anyone knows, yet are told at school to try harder. We are children who are so sick with anxiety about school that it is destructive. We are children who are in the trenches at school..
To help the kids see a light at the end of the tunnel, Kristin brings in speakers who tell the kids of their own experience with dyslexia and organizes fun social events for the kids to build friendships.
But Kristin didn't stop there. Last month, she partnered with the director of Embracing Dyslexia and released a short film, entitled, "What I Wish Teachers Knew About Dyslexia." Its purpose was to show the common experience of the dyslexic student to the 300 teachers attending the 2015 "Everyone Reading Illinois" annual conference. Perhaps even more importantly, Kristin wanted to show the dyslexia "buddies" that their voices mattered.
Little did she know just how far-reaching her short film would become. As of today, the film has been been viewed over 7,000 times. As Kristin describes in the Dyslexia Buddy Network Blog, the film is having quite a "ripple effect," although Mason (whose favorite YouTubers have "millions" of followers), remains unimpressed!
Well, Mason, your mom may not be producing captivating Minecraft videos, but we think her efforts are awesome examples of the power of a grassroots movement to foster connection and promote awareness. Way to go, Kristin and all the dyslexia "buddies"!