Benjamin Wesley Carson attends Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia. He spends his days at school learning new things and volunteering at places such as the Virginia Hospital Center, Culpepper Gardens which is a nursing home for the old, and Good Will. At the end of School he participates in “club” which is an after school activity every day of the week where his classmates and him sell popcorn to the students at our school and go to the grocery store to get supplies for their cooking class. When he arrives home from school and club, he goes straight to the television to see what sporting events are on, spending the rest of the evening watching the games and sport talk shows.
Benjamin is an eighteen year old Down syndrome boy who is in his senior year of high school. He has his own character and is extremely outgoing. Ben has the most self-confidence of anyone I know. He will talk to anyone within 25 feet of him, if it’s a teenage boy he’ll say “Yo dawg! My name’s Ben.” If it’s a teenage girl he’ll be a gentleman and talk as sweet as possible. He’s a hit and I don’t think there is anyone that wouldn’t love to just spend a little time with him.
Benjamin’s got a pretty amazing life going for him, parents that care for him, siblings that love him and friends that spend time with him. He doesn’t really know how to think about the future, but I do. I hear him talking about how he wants to play college football for an endless number of different teams and basketball for the NBA. He’s dreaming just like everyone else, but his reality is a little different than most people. Benj and I have two brothers, Philip who just graduated from College and is in Medical School and Daniel who is in College at the moment. I plan on attending College and participating in a Collegiate sports just as my brother Daniel does. But what about Benjamin? He’s not your average senior in high school. Ben has a disability and most likely will not attend college, he won’t have a regular desk job, and won’t be able to support himself when he is older. I believe mentally disabled people deserve a chance. A chance to get a higher education, a chance to play a collegiate sport, a chance to get a job of their dreams. But most of all they deserve a chance to live and support themselves on their own.
My brother has an amazing talent, just as other mentally disabled people. Ben has the capability of conducting his own sports talk show. He could tell you anything about any sport on television you could ever want. He knows sports history, scores, schedules, upcoming games, who is playing who, and individual player and athlete information. Ben has the talent to be better than most of the talk show hosts out there. The disappointing issue is that he is mentally disabled, and his talents will probably never come to be used. It’s not even that he couldn’t do the job; it’s that he wouldn’t be hired because of his disability. One day I hope he will get the chance to use his gift, just as I hope that the mentally disabled get a chance to use their abilities in life. I believe that mentally disabled people deserve a chance. They deserve a chance to make a difference in the world.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.