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Welcome to the Journey

The Nightlight Report! 

"Perske Pencil Portraits 1971-1990"

This Report is dedicated and presented as a tribute to children with disabilities in Texas and their families. 

"It is my hope that Texas will become a leading light in the nation when it comes to both serving and empowering children with disabilities." -- Texas Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.

The spirit of the "Nightlight": 

"Perske Pencil Portraits
When we think of childhood, the image of the nightlight sparks a warm and reassuring glow.   At night, when it is bedtime and the lights are turned off, children often want something to dispel the unfamiliar shadows and help  them feel secure and safe.  As children, many of us have said  the refrain ourselves, and, as parents, we have heard it from our children, "Can you turn on the nightlight for me?"  When we hear the call, we do not walk away.  We turn on the nightlight.  We harken back to the time when we were small and the light from the nightlight, though very small like us, was bright and had the power to put our worries at ease and guide us to a land filled with our dreams.

May every child have the security and safety of a home, surrounded by loved ones.

May every child have someone who will turn on the nightlight.

In early December, 2010, I began a journey with the Texas Legislature. I emailed all 181 Legislators of the 82nd Texas Legislative Session with a special request, stated as follows:

In honor of children with disabilities and their families in Texas, as the holiday season approaches, I am asking of you 2 simple favors:
1)         During this holiday season think of the word “Nightlight.”  Every time you see the decorative lights going up around you, think of children with disabilities who need a “nightlight.”  Remember, how a nightlight gave you a sense of safety and security as a child and helped keep your worries at bay.  As you lead Texas in this legislative session, please be reminded that you are a “nightlight” for children, and especially children with disabilities.
2)         I am initiating a report of the “Nightlight” Ideas and Actions generated by Texas Legislators.  I want to include your idea or action in that report for Texans to see.  So, here is the second favor I am requesting.  In honor of the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 75th Anniversary of Title V of the Social Security Act (Maternal and Child Health, including Children with Special Health Care Needs), TODAY, in this moment, PROMISE to do just one thing WITHIN THE NEXT MONTH (by January 15, 2011) to help children with disabilities.  The step you take can be just a quick thought, an idea, a wish, or an action (no matter how simple or small).  Take just one simple step.  Then, email me at and tell me the step you have taken (your thought, idea, wish, or action).  When you email me, you are indicating your consent for me to publish your idea or action in the report.

given to
& the Governor
I then personally visited the Texas capitol offices of 136 of these Legislators to deliver a nightlight as a reminder of children with disabilities and of this Report and my request. I mailed the nightlight to those who I was unable to visit or to those who were newly elected and did not yet have a capitol office.

After the holidays, I recontacted the Legislators by email and also phoned each of the 181 offices whose Legislator had not yet responded. These contact efforts were also specifically extended to the Governor of Texas (including the Governor-appointed members of the Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities), the Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the House.

Texas Legislators and members of the Texas Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities responded to my request and this Report is a compilation of their responses. This Report shares their thoughts, wishes, and actions regarding children with disabilities.

The purpose of the Nightlight Report is to highlight the example set by the Texas Legislators and the Texas Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities in order to inspire and encourage every one of us to take a positive step forward in our intentional awareness of children with disabilities and their families. Every positive step we take, no matter how big or how small, is important and matters. Each step we take moves us forward.

May we shine brightly for children with disabilities and their families!

**I continue to welcome additional contributions to the Nightlight Report from Texas Legislators, the Speaker, the Lieutenant Governor, the Governor, and members of the Texas Governor's Committee
on People with Disabilities.

I also welcome readers' positive input.  Comments may be entered on each page and on the posts.

Painting by Tricia Yacovone
As you contribute and comment, please remember:
If we keep taking thoughtful steps forward and help each other, we will not falter.  We will light the way and cross the finish line and ensure the well-being of children with disabilities and their families in Texas.  

Lesa R. Walker, MD, MPH


Darlene Hello said...


I am so proud to know you, and I am so very grateful for the work you are doing to remind our leadership in the state of Texas of the lives with which they are entrusted. Some children may not have advocates in their lives. They may rely totally on the care the state provides. Your comparison to a nightlight is very appropriate. As we face a year of record budget deficits, let us all strive to keep that light burning brightly for these children.

Thank you for your faithful years of service to all special needs children.

Darlene Hello
Austin TX

Robert and Martha Perske said...

Dear Lesa, this is one of the most unique and thoughtfully written reports we have ever seen. We haven't had the pleasure of meeting you, but we know you must be a very kind and gentle person because you have an extraordinarily beautiful way of touching hearts. All of those with whom you've worked over the years - the children with disabilities and their families, along with providers and advocates - were lucky beyond words to have you there for them. Everything in this report flows so beautifully - from the comforting Nightlight theme to the richest poem we think we've ever read, "A Prayer for Children," by Ina Hughs. You have done a masterful job, one that will surely inspire others to keep the soft glow of that nightlight going.

Bob and Martha Perske
Darien, CT