San Francisco man launches national "Dear Dyslexia Postcard Project"

If a picture postcard is worth a thousand words, Gil Gershoni is awash in a wealth of pages that speak volumes.

"We have over 1,000 postcards to date. A thousand. From over 30 schools from around the country," said Gershoni, "This is a whole bunch from Kansas...each one is a whole different level of expression."

Gershoni is the founder of the "Dear Dyslexia Postcard Project" being launched this October for Dyslexia Awareness month.

Gershoni says he grew up feeling the frustration firsthand of seeing words on the page as a puzzle, struggling to read with dyslexia.

This year, he asked others to write a postcard, expressing what dyslexia means to them through artwork and a word.

"To me, dyslexia is mysterious," said Maren Samuels, 11, who is in the sixth grade at North Bridge Academy in Mill Valley.

The school is dedicated to educating students with dyslexia from 2nd through 8th grades, and has 82 students participating in the project.

Their artwork turned blank postcard pages into open books full of fears and feelings about dyslexia.

"I thought it was a weakness, and it was just a weakness, and it was never going to do anything good for me in my life," said Samuels.

In the process, however, the school and students learn that their shortcomings can also be their superpowers.

"You might feel like you can't do something and you're kind of a problem. But in reality you're really, really not. You're just finding a different way and following your own path," said Samuels, "Now that I know that, I feel proud and I feel more comfortable saying I have dyslexia. 

Art teacher and parent Daisley Kramer says sharing feelings is so important. Her own daughter is a graduate of North Bridge Academy.

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"I think the emotional damage is almost the worst, if their self-esteem is really low because of dyslexia," said Kramer, "The shame, the embarrassment is something that my daughter, at least, needed to learn how to get over and have pride and know that she had worth."

The Dear Dyslexia Postcard Project includes everyone from students to celebrities.

"Gold medalist diver Greg Louganis…and kids from all ages, 6-82. You probably know Alyssa Milano. For her it's a superpower but it's also about bravery," said Gershoni.

Even best-selling author Dave Pilkey sent a postcard of his famous graphic novel character Dogman.

"This is an original one that he sent to us and I just opened the envelope and my jaw just dropped. Wow. So awesome," said Gershoni, proudly holding up Pilkey's postcard, "Dogman, you have to be dyslexic to come up with Dogman."

As the art and words come together, Adele Maze, an art teacher at North Bridge Academy says it has opened new doors for the students.

"All the images are different and it really touched me so deeply," said Maze, "There are a lot of different layers to dyslexia and a lot of different layers to words and the meaning of words and the feelings that go with it."

And in putting those feelings to paper, sometime else magical happened.

Maze and her students discovered that when they put the words on their "Dear Dyslexia" postcards together in a string, it turned into a powerful poem:

Always here this ocean of words. 
Always here, 
the fog. 
I am soggy, 
accomplished and clear. 
In my frozen moments 
I cling to a particle of dust 
and trust
in my abilities.
They crystalize,
form snowflakes. 
My beautiful striving self.

The "Dear Dyslexia Postcard Project" will be on display Saturday, October 7th from 10 a.m. until 12 noon at the North Bridge Academy School in Mill Valley.

The project will then debut in Washington D.C., on October 17th when the House Dyslexia Caucus will host an event on Capitol Hill.