Friend of Denison
Citation awarded June, 2004
Barbara Brode Buswell was the rock on whom her undergraduate friends leaned, no matter what. Even after she lost her parents while she was at Denison and became the surrogate parent to her younger siblings, she was always there for anyone who needed to talk.
Those values and her dedication to people who need help have never wavered. When her second child, Wilson, was born with cerebral palsy and severe disabilities, Barbara and her husband, Mark, rejected the medical recommendations to institutionalize their newborn son. Instead, they embarked on a path of unwavering commitment to create the best possible life for Wilson, including not only a regular education, but an inclusive one.
When Barbara learned that several of the neighborhood schools in Colorado Springs were unwilling to accept Wilson into their school system, she began studying the laws protecting people with disabilities, especially those pertaining to educational practices within pubic schools. Barbara and a friend, also the parent of a child with significant disabilities, shared a belief that their children and other children with disabilities had the right to lead meaningful, active lives by being included as members of their schools and communities. Using the teaching skills fostered by her Denison education, the two women sat down at Barbara’s kitchen table to define the needs and craft a solution. They borrowed a computer, wrote, and later received, a federal grant for support, and launched the PEAK Parent Center, now the definitive source for parents looking for information on inclusive education.
The mission of PEAK Parent Center is to ensure that children and adults with disabilities lead rich, active lives and participate as full members of their schools and communities by providing information and assistance, including best practices, to their families and the professionals working with them. Thanks in great part to Barbara’s leadership, children with disabilities in Colorado and nationally have better lives today and will have brighter futures tomorrow.
Barbara is a skilled administrator who directs a non-profit with a million-dollar budget. She has published numerous articles, chapters, and books; she organizes an annual national conference; and is often consulted regarding her opinions on national education trends. In short, she is an accomplished professional who has contributed in significant ways to the lives of children with disabilities. She is also the proud mother of three children, all of whom, including Wilson, have become active, contributing citizens.