Sharp young counselors -- some high-schoolers, some in college, and some a bit older -- give a week or more of their summer to give a handful of kids a chance to do things they'd never get to do otherwise.
Would you like to come to an I.E.P. meeting with me? I know, it sounds like fun. What is an I.E.P.? It is an Individualized Educational Plan, and it is every differently abled child's right in the United States of America.
As a child growing up with Downs Syndrome, it was the nurturing of Haile's parents, followed by his neighborhood and learning communities, that imbued him with the tools and confidence to experiment and grow in the arts.
To be clear, Ohio's HB 135 and Indiana's HB 1337 use sympathy and pity toward a minority group as a tool to garnish rights from a large swath of the general population: ALL women. However, these regulations victimize people who live with Down syndrome even more than people who don't.
Having been catapulted into the world of special needs almost exactly 6 years ago, I have several close friends who have children with DS, and many of them have taken an active and passionate stance against some media's one-sided portrayal of this new test as an unequivocally "good thing."
The use of the R-word may seem harmless enough -- until real people get hurt. That one simple word affects people deeply. It hurts people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities, it hurts their families and it hurts their friends.
The International Down Syndrome Coalition staff had the privilege of a private screening of Where Hope Grows. Staff members were impressed and moved by the film. This inspiring movie shatters stereotypes of those with Down syndrome.
In a starred review, Kirkus Review writes: "Lucy's perfectly feisty narration, the emotionally resonant situations and the importance of the topic all elevate this effort well above the pack." I spoke with Beth Vrabel about "Pack of Dorks."
What if the reason art is not seen isn't because it's controversial, but because the people that are making these decisions -- the museum and gallery curators, find it distasteful and somewhat tough to look at?
What if I did this with my teen-something boys? What if I did this with my best-girlfriends? With my Dad? With his new wife? My mother-in-law? My father-in-law? My 20-something daughter? What if I let myself be bold and open and in love?
When the lady with the blue folder walked in my room, I instinctively knew that folder she held in her hand was full of definitions, statistics and medical jargon. Wasn't being told your child had Down syndrome enough to process for one day?
As the parent of a differently abled child, this release of expectation has changed the way I parent, and it has released me from the shackles of expectation -- shackles I didn't even know I had. Every day is a new day, every day is a surprise.
They wield unprecedented power as their thumbs blaze across screens torturing their victims one electronic letter and picture at a time. Bullies destroy lives and they need to be stopped. I say that, and not without hope. You see, I have found an oasis that is all but free from bullying.