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Sarah Rees Howell



 
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For our guest today, she was a child born in 1948 with Cerebral Palsy. Mainstreaming disabled kids into public schools was not done in those days. Sarah was sent to private boarding schools, where she entered into a terribly harsh environment. As a child, she embraced nature. She became friends with a variety of animals, one in particular, a horse she named Ringo. He remained in her life for 30 years. His devotion and unconditional love helped her learn to help herself and others. It helped her to find her still small voice of truth. The name of the book is Ringo’s Gift and it is our honor to have as our guest today Sarah Howell.

Sarah Howell is an Educator:
Sarah Howell is an educator in the root sense of the word, which is to say she opens the powers of the mind.  First, she evokes with her extraordinary story, and then she listens as her audience responds.  As people share their experiences they increase their self-understanding and confidence. First, they own their stories, then they own their lives.  Essentially, they acknowledge and take responsibility for their faith in themselves. You can see it in their eyes.

A Story Teller:
Sarah's story is that of a child with cerebral palsy who acknowledges her disability but refuses to let it hold her back. As her story unfolds, people see how a timid, reactive child transformed herself into a confident, pro-active adult.  It's the mythical story of insight building to epiphany and personal power. As such, the story heals, affirms and inspires.
 
As a child, Sarah embraced nature.  She became friends with a variety of animals. One, a horse named Ringo, remained in her life for 30 years, from 16-445. Ringo served as Sarah's teacher in the same way Sarah now teaches others: He listened, and by doing so, opened the powers of her mind.
 
And a Healer:
Sarah's story is extraordinary for three reasons.  First, it's a story of enormous courage, the quality of courage that comes only from desperation.  As such, it's inspiring for those who are afraid of their despair.  Second, it's a story of a disabled girl who defies convention, follows her "still, small voice of truth" and emerges as a strong independent woman. As such it's inspiring for those who dream of going their own way. And finally, it's a story of the healing powers of nature - if we open to Her.

"To be disabled is a gift," Sarah says.  "Because we're forced to choose faith in ourselves. In this sense, it's the non-disabled who are handicapped, because they don't have to choose. We can teach them, open them to the power of their faith in themselves by example of out faith in ourselves."
 
Sarah's example has transformed lives. In 1996, the playwright, Maura Campbell, wrote a play based on Sarah's memoir, "Crossing the Threshold."  The play has and continues to be produced by high school students throughout Vermont.  Sarah is presently writing a treatment for a documentary on her life.


Click here to visit author's website