Meet Mickie Bower Brown. She is the ultimate cheerleader for her daughter, Brittany. She has been instrumental in paving the way for her daughter and others with special needs. We sat down with her to ask her a few questions about her and her experiences.
PLU: What is your favorite place on earth and why?
MBB: Honestly, my favorite place on earth is a community called the The Villages at Noah’s Landing. Because there are 128 incredible residents that live there who have intellectual and or developmental challenges who are filled with nothing but unconditional love and acceptance of everyone they meet.
PLU: If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
MBB: Australia, so I could play with baby kangaroos.
PLU: If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?
MBB: It would have to be Samantha Stephens from the television series Bewitched. All she had to do was “twitch” her nose and she had the magical power to take something bad and turn it into good. There are many times I wish I was Samantha so I could change a certain situation.
PLU: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
MBB: To change the world.
PLU: What is your favorite TV show or movie?
MBB: I like The Fosters because I can relate with being a foster parent, adoption and some of the struggles the TV family has to deal and cope with.
PLU: What is your favorite food?
MBB: Cheese pizza.
PLU: What do you like to do in your free time?
MBB: Not sure I know what free time is. I love being with my fur babies, family and friends.
PLU: Can you describe the projects have you started because of Brittany?
MBB: When Brittany was in middle school, we purchased a washer and dryer for the classroom so the students could bring their own laundry weekly to school to learn how to do their own laundry.
When Brittany was at South McKeel, she knew that students were only suppose to go to high school for four years, but if you had intellectual or developmental challenges you could stay in high school for 8 years or until you aged out at 22. Brittany’s Junior year she asked if she could go to college. How do you tell your child that they wouldn’t qualify to get into a college? You don’t! Instead you go to the Polk County School District and then meet with the Florida Southern College to come up with a partnership to start a four year transition program with a special education program so students would have an opportunity to be on a college campus and interact and socialize with typical peers for four years. Because of my desire to adopt when I was only 12 years old (when my brother adopted my niece), I knew I would adopt when I grew up. What I didn’t know is that God would give me a 13 day old baby girl that He made “extra” special. Then being told by two specialist when Brittany was almost 2 that she’d never walk or talk is when my life totally changed. I was not about to accept what the doctors were saying. From that point on my life was filled with tutors, occupational and physical therapists and parent support groups and advocating.
During the parent support meetings is when I learned I was not alone and shared the same fears as other families and that was “What’s going to happen to our loved ones when we pass away?” That was one of the inspirations for Noah’s Ark of Central Florida. 20 years later, there is a state of the art community that 128 residents call home. Brittany continues to touch the lives of countless people. She truly doesn’t understand the impact she’s made in so many lives and for children that aren’t even born yet that will benefit from all of this. Brittany has taught me more than anyone could possibly ever teach me. I am honored to be her mother and advocate.
PLU: What’s been the most challenging and most rewarding part of having Brittany as your daughter?
MBB: The most challenging has been changing laws to be able to improve and to empower people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. And being strong enough and keeping the faith to “never never give up” on the vision and dream that took 20 years to accomplish. It's a reward to witness resident's smiling faces, happy tears, and milestones. Watching Brittany become an even better and more confident self advocate and Brittany being an inspiration to other families.
We hope Mickie's story leaves you inspired. It incredible to know that people who aspire to change the world actually can make a difference.
In fact, you never know how change can happen. Your simple dream has the potential to change generations! So tell us about it below: