Homecoming Queen with Down syndrome inspiring to all

October 24, 2008 at 2:42 PM Leave a comment

You have perhaps heard about the issue of cyber-bullying where people use the internet as a vehicle to hurt or harass young teens.  Well today I heard of a situation of just the opposite.  I read a story about high school students from the suburbs outside of Chicago (my home town!) using Facebook for a really positive secret agenda.

Students of Libertyville High School, without the knowledge of the girl involved, started a Facebook group called “Annie Jennings for Homecoming Queen.”  This site accumulated more than 300 members in an amazing show of support for Annie and helped get her elected.

Annie is a senior at Libertyville High School and has Down syndrome.  The flavor of this site was exemplified by one of the comments posted which read: “Annie has already won in my book!”  She is beautiful outside AND more importantly INSIDE.”

Are there secrets to Annie’s success?   Well for one thing, Annie was mainstreamed in the educational system for the first eight years of her education which allowed her to forge relationships outside the special education system.  According to news accounts, Annie has fostered and continued these relationships even though most of her time in high school was spent in separate special-education classes.

I hope educators and parents alike can learn from Annie’s story that children with special needs should sometimes be treated as “non-special” by allowing them to learn, grown and play in the mainstream educational pool.  We all need to figure out how to navigate our way through diverse groups of people.  This can create challenge, conflict or hopefully connection but it is definitely a learning opportunity.  You can see from this wonderful example in Libertyville that both Annie and her classmates took that opportunity and were enriched from the experience

Congratulations Annie!  Congratulations students at Libertyville High School!  Congratulations to Annie’s parents and educators who contributed to creating an environment where the election of one particular homecoming queen can be considered a victory for all.

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Art combines creativity and therapy for children with special needs The Power of Language

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October 2008


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