My name is Len Whalen. During the last few years I have been working as an advocate for a family who are the guardians of a little guy with FASD as they navigate the education system. As a former Special Education Teacher and Counsellor I should have had the tools to be an “expert” but I could not have been more surprised at the challenges we faced. Through my research I got involved with the FASD Action Network, Kingston and NeuroDevNet.
I have a background in theatre and education and decided it was important to give all the data, statistics, percentiles and numbers a human face. So I wrote a play to tell some of the incredible stories that are common to so many families struggling to cope with the devastating effects of FASD. The play is a work of fiction but the situations are common to thousands. The play is called “Jacob’s Story (and the terrible, awful, no good, very bad thing that happens to some kids” (Jacob’s Story). Promo video: http://bit.ly/QbtsCX
It follows Jacob and his family as they struggle with life’s challenges through family crisis, the school system – which does not understand FASD – issues with peers and eventually the criminal justice system. The production includes original music created for the show by Sam McNichols. The song performed during the show is “Victim of the Eyes” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdbFfC_rogI
The play would be just words on a page without the amazing dedication of the volunteer cast (Cathy Griffin, Daniel Pauley, Susie Jenkins, Emma McNichols and Sam McNichols) who have contributed countless hours rehearsing and performing the show…all without remuneration.
Here are some of the comments people sent after seeing the show:
The whole play from beginning to end validates the journey of the family as a unit, the so misunderstood kids living the disorder the schools lack of understanding and resistance to being educated and of course the final resting place, jail, where I know first-hand a majority of alcohol affected individuals end up. The ending was so bang on. There are no words to describe just how I felt but pure emotion. This play visually teaches everyone and this is how an alcohol affect individual learns best, visually.
I enjoyed the play very much. The stories afterwards were gripping and despite all our personal tragedies, we are indeed fortunate when compared to those affected by this terrible disorder.
…just wanted to let you know we thought the show last night was amazing. The discussion afterwards was really great too. I’m so thankful to have been given the chance to see the show. Your passion and knowledge will bring attention and hopefully awareness to this awful disorder that has affected yours and so many others lives. I know what you are doing is going to help so many, and bring about change and help for these kids and their families.
I just wanted to say how impressed we were last night with your play and the whole evening. It was poignant, heartfelt, thought provoking and should definitely be shown to as many groups as possible. From teachers to medical personnel to prison guards and the general public, everyone could learn from it.
…it was such a privilege to be part of the audience for Jacob’s Story …a powerful and inspiring piece. Congratulations!