Tomorrow is Savannah’s Buddy Walk. We have frequently bragged about our local group, the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society, and the terrific job they do with awareness in the Savannah area. I am amazed that after only 5 years, they attract 3,000+ (will it be 4,000 this year?) to the Buddy Walk. It really is something to see.
Brooke did a count last night and we have 97 people signed up for the J-Walkers. I suspect it is actually higher than that.
As Jonathan grew up, I always wondered how he would be received by others. Would friends drift away because it was too uncomfortable to be around a child with special needs? (How ignorant I was!) What I have learned is that to know Jonathan is to love him. He simply charms everyone he meets and makes friends where ever he goes. Our headcount at the walk is but one data point.
But it’s not just Jonathan. Nearly all the children–and adults–with Down syndrome I meet have a wonderful view on life, have a wicked sense of humor, and want what we all want: to be respected, to be happy, to work, to impact the world in a positive way. They are a joy to know.
I read this editorial last night and it captures so eloquently why parents feel so strongly about the use of the R-word. Every time it is heard it reminds us that our children are in a category that is not respected and valued. Its unchallenged use allows society to continue to demean people who need our help, but instead are ridiculed.
I imagine that if any one of the 97 J-Walkers heard someone with intellectual disability referred to a re**rd, they would gently grab their arm and say, “That’s not right. Please don’t use that word. These children of God deserve our love and help, not our ridicule.”
So this is why I walk. Because once you know Jonathan or any other child with Down syndrome, you can’t help but become an advocate.
Thank you to all you J-Walkers, and to everyone else who walks.
Leave a comment. We’ll give away another Deedah to a random commenter. If you can’t think of what to say, leave the name of the Buddy Walk team you joined, or leave the name of your home town.