On December 21 2010 a handsome young man named Daniel Epstein stepped up onto a podium at the Surrogate Court to accept the Be A Champion Essay Contest award from the New York City Department of Education, the New York Jets, and Lime Connect. Here is his prize-winning essay.
"My name is Daniel Epstein. I am 11 years old and I have autism. Everyday my life is filled with challenges and new experiences. My most challenging goal is to move up and out of my special education class. I would like to go to regular education class. My dream is to graduate from the high school of Art and Design and then attend the Pratt institute. I would focus on the digital arts program. My ultimate goal is to graduate with my bachelor of fine arts and to become a graphic artist.
My determination and focus will help me achieve my goals . My future will be bright and successful. I can speak to others who have autism just like me and other developmental disabilities. With hard work, focus and determination, anything is possible. All a person needs is a dream and a will to make that dream become a reality."
What Daniel said, my friends. With the support of loving family, friends, and teachers, nothing will stop this guy. So next time you run into someone who paints a grim picture of your child's future, re-read Daniel's essay and remember that perseveration is just another word for perseverance. That's the quality from which all bright futures spring, for all of our kids whether they have disabilities or not. Mazel Tov, Daniel.