My advocacy of children with special needs didn't begin the day Alayna was born but rather, 30 years ago in an elementary classroom. Each student in Mr. Cunningham's history class were paired with an elderly adult to research the history of their life and write about it. There weren't enough adult volunteers for my class so, I was signed up to work at a school that specialized in kids with severe to profound learning delays.
As you know, I don't think anything happens by chance. God has a plan for my life and I love to look back and see how he has gently held my hand as I have walked on his sidewalk (ok maybe he dragged me back on the sidewalk when I got off into the grass, or in the mud, or slept in on Sundays in college because we had too much fun at Harpos on Saturday night, or kicked me in the bum the other day for...well ok you get it).
I loved working with these students with special needs, and because of this experience it led me to pursue a degree in special education. As a teacher and even as a principal, I have always been drawn to kids with special needs. Nothing delighted my day like the hug from one of my teenagers that most of society would walk away from without even greeting.
Maybe it is from my own awkward moments in life of wearing glasses in early elementary school, being a "band nerd" (I was drum major~queen of all band nerds, for goodness sake!), or a very ugly preteen.
No, I don't think so. I believe all these life experiences have prepared me for the best job...to be the mother to Aidan and Alayna. Their biggest fan, advocate, educator, and protector.
I would love to live in a perfect world where there is no poverty, no stereotypes, no evil, no homeless, no orphans, no mean people, no bad words etc. but, that just isn't life here on Earth. I will continue to prepare Aidan & Alayna for life. I pray that they will be self confident and will stand firm in this world all while accomplishing many great things.
I commend Special Olympics and the awesome youth that started the Spread the word to end the word... campaign. Please educate yourself and others around you about special needs and the use of these derogatory words.
I truly believe that education is the key to changing society. I will continue to educate those that walk across my path and hope you will too.