This I Believe
At my high school, Lyons Township, I am involved in a program called Lion Friends. In this program, we do many activities with the mentally challenged students. We have things like a Halloween costume party, a Christmas movie night, plenty of pizza parties, a spring picnic, and much, much more. We not only get to learn how to interact with these students, but we also have fun at the same time. I have learned so much from all of them.
This wonderful program has enriched my life and changed my way of thinking. I have begun to think before I act. I still hear people in the hallways making fun of these mentally challenged students as they walk by. I have heard them call these people names like, “Retards.” The reason why I have stressed the word people is because that is what these students are, just regular people like you and me. They should not be called names or made fun of because of their disability. These teenagers with Down syndrome didn’t choose to have this disease.
I believe that the mentally challenged students at LT, as well as everywhere else, should be treated like normal people. (After all, that is what they are.) They should not be made fun of for something that they cannot control. These people are not any different than the rest of us. I know for a fact that one of the girls is dating one of the boys right now. They have been dating since last year. I actually witnessed one of their fights! Some of the boys even ask the girls to homecoming. Mostly all of them attend with, or without a date. They all socialize. I have even seen some of them at football games. They do everything that a normal teenager does; the only difference is that they learn at a slower pace. They are no different than the rest of us, so why treat them like they are aliens?
I know that this may sound a little cheesy, but in this case the Golden Rule should be applied. Treat others as you would like to be treated. These people are not any different in any way from everyone else, except for the pace at which they learn. These students should be treated properly and should be respected.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.