- School District 49
Paraeducator Inspires With One-of-a-Kind Music Video
Cory Jacobson is driven by a passion. She wants to help others see the humanity of people who live with a disability. Jacobson is a paraeducator at Inspiration View Elementary who lives with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and joined with others like her across the nation to star in a first-of-its-kind music video that tells the story of what it is like to take on each day with a disability.
The idea for the video started with Genentech, a pharmaceutical company that produces drugs to help treat SMA. SMA is a genetic neuromuscular disease that causes muscles used for movement to become weak, and confines Jacobson to a wheelchair. The company wanted to bring awareness to SMA and to find stars for their project, they reached out via support groups on social media.
"I was shocked they asked me to participate," said Jacobson. "To be grouped together with so many talented people. It's important to advocate that being different isn't a bad thing. We should celebrate our differences and not just try to hide them.
"We all wanted something powerful … we are normal people living in the same spaces, doing the same things as our able-bodied peers," shared Jacobson. That philosophy led their brainstorming sessions via Zoom to land on their song's name, "Spaces."
The song was written and performed by singer/songwriter James Ian. The video was directed by Hollywood producer Dominick Evans. Both Ian and Evans live with SMA.
"We shared our own stories, and those stories became lyrics," explained Jacobson. "Those of us with disabilities were empowered to dictate the song and video." The project launched in early 2021 and the video was released in November, days after Jacobson arrived in D49 to embark on another new endeavor: serving as a paraeducator.
"I feel like there was a sign that brought me to Inspiration View. The name [of the school] is very fitting. I thought about another school at first, but I feel like I fit in here." Jacobson enjoys delivering motivational speeches about living with a disability and likes contributing to the school her daughter, Kinley, attends.
"Working in education means inspiring others to understand those who have disabilities. I have a lot of students with behavioral challenges. They come to me and say, 'I can't do it … it's too hard.' I help them find answers and solutions. I tell them there is always a way."
Teachers at IVES started sharing the video with students after winter break, and honest conversations with Jacobson continue to grow. Students will ask, "Why are you in a wheelchair?" Jacobson will explain, "You know how you have strong legs? Mine aren't like that." The D49 staff member appreciates the curious minds of young learners. "You'd be surprised by the number of adults who never interact with someone who has a disability … education is so much more than math and reading."
You can view the music video and watch for D49 Team Member Cory Jacobson here: https://bit.ly/3GTsMvn