by Jackie & Sebastian Igafo-Te'o, February 20, 2004
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I knew that this day would come. I just didn't know when. My son
Sebastian (age 10) came home from school today talking about how
Lincoln helped free the slaves and how Martin Luther King Jr.
helped people of all races to realize his dream of equality. He
said that everyone is now free and equal because these people
made a difference. I asked him if he really thought that
everyone was free and equal today. He said YES. I explained to
him that people with disabilities are still kept separate - like
his own 9-year-old brother, Michael. He had always thought that
it was "ok" that his brother was treated differently and that he
was kept separate from others...or maybe he just hadn't thought
about it at all.
He seemed to age about 10 years in a few seconds.
He wanted to know why Michael was in a different school and why
Michael had to go to a special daycare and why he couldn't go to
boy scouts. Most painful, HE WANTED TO KNOW WHY I LET IT HAPPEN.
There wasn't much that I could say to defend myself. I
explained that people still don't understand that Michael is the
same on the inside as they are. Just because he may seem
different on the outside doesn't mean that he's any different than
they are. He has emotions, he feels pain, he loves, he laughs and cries --
he wants and needs friends. He must've understood that because
it seemed to hit him hard. He got mad. He asked me if he
could write a letter to the President. After all, Martin Luther
King Jr. had made a difference and he was just one person.
(APPLAUSE TO HIS TEACHER ON THAT!) I couldn't say no to this
rationale. Big thoughts for this 10 year old kid that I'd
underestimated. He wants to know if a bill can be passed so that
his brother can go to his school and do the same things in the
community that he does. I told him that with enough people just
like him, one day this dream will come true.
Click here to
read his letter to President Bush [PDF; size=93k].
A proud mom,
Jackie D. Igafo-Te'o
Igafo-Te'o family currently resides in Jackson, Michigan.
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