For those of you who know me personally, you know my life was changed forever by a wonderful person named Joe. He became part of my world when I was in college, going to school to become and elementary school teacher. Joe has Down Syndrome. He was born with an extra chromosome.
Joe was included from the moment he was born. His family and community saw beyond the chromosome and the learning difficulties. He was lucky because his family fought for his right to go to school with his peers. He participated in school functions. He played on the high school soccer team. Yes, you read that right, the regular team (and I will forever be grateful to an old friend, the coach, who saw the value in putting him on the team and letting him play.) He went to the prom! And he went away to college to learn life skills with peers.
Is it hard to make inclusion part of every day life? It shouldn’t be. If we teach our children from a very young age that everyone deserves to go to play dates. Everyone should get the chance to participate in a play. And every child should feel like a part of the group-wouldn’t the world be a better place?
As the summer approaches, I challenge every parent to look for an opportunity to teach your children about inclusion. It is crucial to teach them acceptance. It’s even better if you actually practice this skill.
As for me, I am looking forward to spending some time this summer with Joe. My children love playing ball with him, going to the beach, and just being with Uncle Joe.
This post was inspired by this article. Please read it!