A message from the Chair of the SDSS…
As a mother, a friend, an advocate, a member of our community, and most importantly - a human being - I was compelled to write something in response to an article that was printed in the Regina Leader-Post this morning. In this story, a young man with Down syndrome was disrespected and taken advantage of by his peers in a Regina high school washroom. Upon reflection, the details of this story became less relevant than the bigger picture - the fact that two young men would find it funny, appropriate and okay to commit these actions against a schoolmate. That, here we are, in 2015, and these stories still pop up. Don’t get me wrong, I was beyond horrified after reading this. We have a young daughter with Down syndrome and I immediately felt the heartbreak this family must have felt, the shock and embarrassment the young man must have felt. School is supposed to be a safe place. Peers are supposed to be supporters, advocates and mentors. Some may say I live in a world of rainbows and unicorns if I think that this could be an all encompassing reality. I know that one day, my daughter may face the same embarrassment or bullying. I know that one day, ANY of my daughters may face this. It doesn’t make it okay. It makes it something worth speaking out about. Something worth fighting for, and something worth changing.
I feel like we need to teach our youth - our future - that this is never okay. It is never, under any circumstances, okay to intentionally hurt, demean, disrespect or take advantage of another human being. Gender, race, sexual preference, or genetic make up aside, we are all more alike than we are different. I reach out to anyone reading this - to fellow parents, teachers, community leaders, employers, co-workers, coaches, human beings - stand together and teach our children that a world divided and segregated is not one they want to live in. That every single person they come into contact with each and every day deserves the same amount of respect, love and dignity that we ourselves demand. We need to create a future where people with disabilities are not seen as less than us, but equals.
I know there are those out there who live and breathe this every day. I do see it in the schools and out in the community . The world IS changing. Views ARE changing. This was just a bitter reminder that we aren’t quite there yet. For now, we will take what we can get… and graciously fight for more. Join us, won’t you?