Author Jimmy Curran Teaches Students to Accept Differences
You could've heard a pin drop inside the classrooms at Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School as students sat side by side on the carpet, listening intently, as author Jimmy Curran read his book, Will, the One-Winged Eagle. Like most authors, Curran has a message to deliver, and that message is "people with disabilities are very able and capable of doing many things."
The 28-year-old Curran has spent his entire life in a wheelchair. He has Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 2, a condition that affects the part of the nervous system that controls muscle movement. However, it hasn't slowed him down. In fact, Curran touts quite the list of accomplishments - graduating with honors from Temple University, completing internships in New York City and Washington, D.C., working full-time for a major health insurance company, and self-publishing Will, the One-Winged Eagle. He also created a clothing line called “disABLE.”
Curran moved from classroom to classroom sharing his book with students. Will the One-Winged Eagle teaches kids self-acceptance, acceptance of people with disabilities and other differences, as well as persistence in the face of adversity. The book was illustrated by Kris Napper, Curran's friend who also has Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 2.
Will was born with only one wing, and his fellow eagles always point out his differences and tell him he isn't capable of much. Throughout the story, Will questions if he will ever be able to fly or collect food. Thanks to persistence and perseverance, Will proves his fellow eagles wrong, and shows them that despite his differences he is capable just like them.
Curran was inspired to write his book after the birth of his nephew.
"I thought it was an important lesson for him to learn," said Curran. "It's important for everyone to learn that it is okay to be different."
Following the story, Curran asked the students if they had any questions. One student asked what his biggest challenge has been in life.
"Probably teaching my employer about my disability and how to deal with it. I went on 30 job interviews before I got one offer."
When asked what they loved most about the book, one first-grade student replied, "I like how Will was upset in the beginning but then he figures out that disabilities don't always let you down. Don't look at your disability; look at what you can do."