A&E Original Movie
The Brooke Ellison Story
Before her life was forever changed at the age of 11, Brooke Ellison was a typical little girl going to school, participating in activities such as dancing, and just growing up. The Ellisons were an average American family with three children living everyday lives at work and school. Within one day, however, this entire picture was completely transformed. Walking home from school, Brooke was hit by a car, a terrible accident which left her teetering on the brink of life. Brooke survived, but had sustained serious injuries which left her paralyzed from the neck down and reliant on a ventilator to breathe. The Brooke Ellison Story tells the dramatic, courageous, and warm story of Brooke’s perseverance amidst these challenges and her insistence to forge through life without accepting the limitations expected of those in her situation.
From the moment Brooke regained consciousness after her accident, both she and her family were determined that she live a vibrant life. Confronted with medical bureaucracy, the logistical difficulties of being in a wheelchair, and the high costs of her treatment, Brooke’s family struggled to pull her through recovery with the chance to thrive. With Brooke’s steady resilience and forthright motivation, her family and community banded together to provide her with the assistance she needed in order to become the student and scholar she seemed destined to be. With her mother’s daily help, Brooke attended a mainstream school where her academic excellence and dedication led her to Harvard University. After graduating summa cum laude, Brooke went on to receive her master’s degree in Public Policy at Harvard. Today, she is pursuing her PhD in Political Psychology at Stony Brook University and continues to build her career as a scholar. Brooke has used her inspirational path to make a difference—she writes, travels, and lectures throughout the country, encouraging young people to work toward achieving their most lofty dreams while helping others along the way.
The Brooke Ellison Story is about the determination and talent of this extraordinary young woman. But it is also a story about the community of hope which builds around those who experience injury. This moving program chronicles the unfailing dedication of Brooke’s mother as she goes with her to school every single day as an aide, even through her college years. Though Brooke’s family was worn and tested by the hardship of her accident, they drew upon the caring and unceasing support of their community at every step. At one point Brooke’s mother asks a doctor discussing Brooke’s prognosis, “What’s your definition of success?” This powerful and engaging program will give students the opportunity to think about how Brooke and her family have defined success in ways which can inspire all of us to push that definition beyond its traditional boundaries—for ourselves, for our families, and for our communities. Brooke’s drive and sunny personality make her a truly stellar example of how one individual can exemplify the definition of “Lives That Make A Difference.”
The Brooke Ellison Story would be useful for journalism, current events, and social studies courses. It would be an excellent program to be shown during after school events or youth group gatherings. It presents a valuable opportunity for teachers and group leaders to introduce students to A&E’s “Lives That Make a Difference” campaign. Teachers and their students can learn more about this initiative at http://www.aetv.com/class/lives/.
What do you think was the biggest challenge Brooke faced after her accident?
How did Brookes injury affect her family? What were some of the ways they struggled after she was hurt?
In this program, some people had low expectations of Brookes promise, others encouraged her to accomplish whatever she dreamed of doing. What are some examples of people who believed in her ability to achieve?
In the program, dancing was very important to Brooke. What do you think dancing represented to her? How did she continue to dance despite her injury?
What were some of the main turning points in Brookes path to healing?
In what ways did the Ellisons community help Brooke and her family through Brookes injury?
What did you find most inspirational about Brookes story?
Do you think Brookes academic interests in college reflected her experience as someone who lived through a serious accident?
Do you know people in your community who have stories like Brookes? What kinds of things have they been able to accomplish despite these challenges?
How has Brooke used her experience to help and inspire others?
What are some examples of ways you could get involved in your community or help others?
This program shows how Brooke Ellison refused to give up hope after her injury. In a short essay of 1 to 2 pages, describe what you see as the most important qualities Brooke needed in order to reach Harvard University and pursue her PhD. Include in your essay at least five key qualities that Brooke drew upon on her path to recovery and success. After you have concluded your essay, you can also create a poster-board or mini-poster on construction paper which list these qualities and define them using a dictionary. You can be creative and decorate these posters colorfully, including inspirational ideas, quotes, or images of people in the past or present who instill hope in others.
All around us there are people who, just like Brooke, are examples of Lives That Make a Difference. They may be people survived serious injuries, or they could be people who use their time and resources to help others in need. Choose an example of someone who you think has made a difference. They could be someone who lives near you, or someone who is part of popular culture. Then, write a short speech which describes what this person has done to make a difference and why you find them inspirational. After writing your speech, time it so that it is about 3-4 minutes in length. Your teacher, group leader, or parent can help you with timing. Practice giving your speech to a teacher, parent or friend. Then, deliver your speech to your larger class or group. You will be able to share this story and hear other examples of people who have made a difference from your classmates.
Throughout the country there are organizations dedicated to helping people. Some of focus on specific causes such as finding cures for diseases or helping raise money for research. Others provide services, giving food, housing, and companionship to those in need. Chose a cause or issue that is important to you. At the library, or using the Internet, research the groups which have been created to address this cause or issue. Think about how you might get involved and make a difference yourself!
- Brooke Ellisons official web site:
- Ellison, Jean and Brooke Ellison. "Miracles Happen: One Mother, One Daughter, One Journey" (Hyperion, 2002).
- A web site with many links related to childrens charities:
- A database of charity organizations and foundations:
- Switzer, Jacqueline Vaughn. "Disabled Rights: American Disability Policy and Fight for Equality" (Georgetown University Press, 2003).
- Warwick, Mal. "How to Write Successful Fundraising Letters" (Jossey-Bass, 2001).