“Protecting the Affordable Care Act,” Carol Combs (2018) — Inquiry 4

To watch Combs’s video, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Tf5LGlXuWo&t=10

Dear Movie Viewer,

For Inquiry 3, I wrote about the Affordable Care Act and the role it plays in the lives of millions of Americans.  I selected a topic that I have spent countless hours advocating for over the last nine months and countless hours researching so I knew immediately that creating a movie would be the perfect fit for this project.  For both Inquiry 3 and 4, my peers were my audience, but in creating a movie to carry the message I feel as though my audience will grow beyond the walls of the classroom.  

My Inquiry 3 paper had a more professional tone than my video. While I did use facts from my son’s story in the paper it was never “revealed” that the situations described were taken directly from my personal experiences.  For this inquiry, I felt I was able to share a side of my life that has been directly impacted by the ACA therefore, effectively showcasing why it is vital that the ACA is protected and not fully repealed. It is sometimes hard for individuals to fully understand why the health care debate has sparked so much fear among millions of Americans, unless they have a personal connection to a loved one/friend who has special health care needs or a disability.  By creating a movie for Inquiry 4, I feel as though I was able to provide the viewer with a glimpse into what life looks like for both individuals with complex medical needs and their families.  If this video helps just one person have a better understanding why families like mine fight for the protection of the ACA then I have reached my goal to educate and empower people about the importance of the ACA.  

The toughest part of completing this project, besides learning how to navigate the movie program, was trying to create an effective story that would not create a sense of pity for my son Grayson.  I did decide to video document some of the moments in our life that we normally wouldn’t record (e.g. feedings, vest treatments) to provide the viewer with a more intimate view of my family’s daily life, but it was done with some hesitation.  I also included pictures and video clips within the movie that illustrate what a good life looks like for Grayson, being sure to include how the ACA has played a role in making those moments possible. As I playback the movie, I feel I was able to successfully incorporate these moments into the movie and to really bring Grayson’s story to life without leaving the viewer with a sense of pity.  

My son’s story spans over almost a decade, which made it hard to select the best images and facts to illustrate the story I was trying to tell.  To organize myself, I used index cards to create a storyboard, which helped me to ensure that the movie did not become a biography of Grayson’s life but rather a testimony to the importance of the ACA.  In order to make sure the viewer did not lose interest, I set out with the goal to make a video that was seven minutes or less in length and I was successful in making that happen.  I also tried to fit as much information as possible in the movie without overwhelming the viewer. As you watch the video there are a few moments where there are only music and pictures; I designed it this way so that the viewer has a moment to pause and reflect on the information shared before jumping into the next set of facts.

During the last few years of this incredible journey with Grayson, I have been inspired by the quote: “Be an advocate for the people and causes important to you, using the most powerful tool only you have—your personal stories” (John Capecci and Timothy Cage.)   I feel that creating this movie has brought to life the advocacy journey I have been on with Grayson and provided me with a new and effective way to advocate for Grayson and other families who share the same fears regarding the ACA.  While the health care debate may no longer be stealing the headlines of new stories and articles, that does not mean the fight to protect the ACA is over. The battle rages on.  

As I view the finished movie, I am reminded as a mother just how far we have come and how many challenges my son has overcome.  I truly believe that the ACA has made a huge difference in my son not falling to the statistical prognosis associated with his condition.   My hope is that as you watch this movie you will remember Grayson’s story and understand that while he may be a small piece of the health care debate, there are millions of families across the United States who share our journey.  


Carol Combs