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Article of Interest - Disabilities/Education

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Bridges4Kids LogoA Personal Story
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

The Igafo-Te'o family currently resides in Jackson, Michigan.

    

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