Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Teaching Humanity

A co-worker was recently telling me about a situation her daughter was having at school.  She had just started middle school, and a boy in her class was intimidating her.  He had a menacing stare when he looked at her, he behaved in a way that suggested he wasn't a very nice kid, and he was just. plain. BIG.  I give this girl huge props for telling her mom about it.  She was unsure of what to do, and felt afraid.  Her mother, a former educator, pieced together some of the information her daughter had relayed to her, and thought that perhaps this boy had some sort of learning/social disability.  Upon doing some checking, she discovered that, indeed, he had autism, and his signals were likely being misinterpreted.  The daughter, a very sweet young lady with a real desire to learn and to help others, who had come to our Buddy Walk and absolutely loved it the year before, wanted to know what she could do to break the ice with him.  Her mom suggested she find something he's interested in, and bring him something related to that. 

He was interested in Star Wars.

She brought him a book. 

And they've been friends ever since, with a bond likely never experienced by either of them before. 

Her eyes are open now, to others who may be misunderstood, who may have problems adapting socially, who just need a friend.

She's a Girl Scout.  Last month, the girls in her troop were given a project to do research on a topic and present it to the group for a badge.  She told her mom she wanted to do her project on Down syndrome.

Can you see me smiling from wherever you are?

This young lady is one of the people who will go on to change the world. 

This young lady is paving the way for acceptance, tolerance and respect for people with differences.

This young lady is teaching lessons in humanity

To say I'm truly impressed is an understatement.

I told her I'd love to be her mentor on the project, to help her with some of the information, and to be there on her presentation night to answer any questions, and she's excitedly accepted my assistance.

I'm really not sure who's more excited, her or me...

A different co-worker approached me a few weeks ago to tell me that he'd just discovered that his niece was in Samantha's class.  He doesn't live in our town.  He probably didn't even know what town I live in.  Curious, I asked him how he'd pieced together that information.  He said that he was in the room with his sister when his niece came home from school, excitedly telling her mom about a little girl in her class that she absolutely loved.

A little girl with Down syndrome, named Samantha.

My co-worker has met Sammi several times, and figured it out immediately.

How cool is that?

A little girl in her class that she loves...

This is 3rd grade.  Any differences are totally obvious, laid bare, ever-present and part of the day-to-day. 

My daughter is accepted by her peers.

Yes, I knew this already, but this year she's in a class with all new children, only two of whom she'd had class with before.  A whole new crop of kids exposed to her larger-than-life personality, her quirks, her idiosyncrasies, her endless supply of stubborn

And they accept and love her.

They, too, will go on to teach others the same acceptance, tolerance and respect.  They, too, will teach lessons in humanity

The world will continue to become a better place for everyone, one new teacher at a time.


Stephanie said...

Wow.....love this! I hope you'll write about your experience with the young lady and Girl Scouts. I'm sure it will be awesome.

CC said...

Another beautiful post, as always, but this one brings tears to my eyes! I look forward to reading more about how you're able to connect with this "young lady." Please do post more often -- your fans have missed you.


Lisa said...

Third grade is scary isn't it! Cate has the same situation, we went from a class that was the same for 3 years to one with only 2-3 previous year students. I was terrified as the gaps get bigger that we were in trouble this year, but these kids are amazing me. Cate tends to go off on her own thing a lot - talks to herself makes up imaginary game only she understands. I fully expected the kids to start to isolate her since she sets the stage for it. They don't, they seem to give her space when she wants it and then let her back in with open arms when she is ready. Your story and my experiences so far this year give me hope that a more tolerant generation is on the horizon.

Lisa said...

I love this post. It brought tears to my eyes :)

Jenny said...

Loved this :)

Mardra said...

And there is hope. Yea!!!!

FlutistPride said...

Humanity is not about being human. It's about being humane. Every human being has some rights regardless of their age, gender, race, disability, religion, or other identifying characteristics they may have.

Elise Hopkins (Kids Included Together) said...

This story is absolutely amazing! This is why inclusion is so important! Without meeting young students like Sammi, these kiddos would not have the opportunity to spread tolerance and understanding. Kudos to all of the parents like you and your co-worker who are continuing to teach your kids to be their unique selves and appreciate the differences of others. Thank you so much for sharing!

Angel The Alien said...

Kids are so smart! I think kids naturally want to love and connect with others unconditionally. In past generations many kids eventually learned to be afraid of people who seemed different from them. Maybe in this generation and in the future, more and more kids will instead learn to love others AND love their differences.

Anonymous said...

Hello, humankindness.

goldenleaves said...

I love this!