I don’t recall when I first met Amy Silverman, managing editor at the Phoenix New Times. (She can also be heard on KJZZ, the NPR affiliate here in Phoenix). I’m guessing it was 25+ years ago and likely our paths had crossed when she was working on a story involving one of our clients. But I’ve certainly been aware of the New Times since I was a student at Arizona State University. I remember how cool it was to pick up the “alternative” paper on campus, bringing it to the Memorial Union to read in between classes. I knew then that I was going to pursue public relations rather than editorial as part of my journalism degree and I clearly knew that the journalists at the New Times were among some of the best writers in town.
The New Times is a long-form newspaper – meaning the journalists have the luxury of pursuing a story with multiple sources that might span several pages in the newspaper. This is very rare today.
As managing editor, Amy has written countless stories on Arizona politics, our justice system, business leaders and most recently and certainly the most personal, life with a child who has Down Syndrome (DS).
Amy is the author of the popular blog, Girl in the Party Hat, which chronicles the adventures (and misadventures) of Amy and her family, husband, Ray, and daughters, Annabelle and Sophie. Amy started the blog (or what was then considered an online journal) about 13 years ago, right after Sophie was born and she and Ray learned that their little bundle of joy had DS. Both journalists (Ray also works at New Times), putting their thoughts in writing helped sort through all the information and emotions that were heading their way.
As the girls grew up so did the growing following on the blog and the idea of writing a book seemed to be the natural progression. Although from what Amy says, she kept the idea of writing a book a secret until she actually had a publisher. She figured no sense in raising expectations until she was sure it would happen.
My Heart Can’t Even Believe It is the result of years of research into DS, visiting with families and their children, meeting with doctors, legislators, school administrators and others that all have a profound impact on her family.
“Sophie was the only person I knew who has DS. Which is a bit awkward considering she’s my kid. I didn’t write the book necessarily for families with kids with DS. I wrote it for my friends, for my colleagues and for the general community, with the hopes of giving you a better understanding of kids like Sophie.”
I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work with the disability community for many years. I’ve come to know many advocates, many like Amy, who find themselves navigating through a world that up until that time they had no real knowledge of. It’s a topic that most would not readily seek out learning more about, until you do. My suggestion? Read the book – it’s well-written, funny, might make you a little angry, will definitely make you cry. And it will make you a little bit smarter, too. Here’s the link for more information, http://www.myheartcantevenbelieveit.com/.
Oh, and the title of the book? That was a video message from Sophie to Amy that Amy watched at the airport on her way out of town. “I love you so much my heart can’t even believe it.” Believe it.
Connect with her on email: firstname.lastname@example.org