Whether the subject matter is education, the workforce, religion, or societal expectations, it seems our culture is infatuated with the idea of diversity. For some, it may never truly be understood. For others, embracing diversity is something that is slowly being learned. For the children of today, it is the norm.
In my opinion, we are headed in the right direction with diversity. After all, by embracing diversity we pronounce that no one should be denied opportunities based upon their color, race, age, religion, gender or way of life. However, as much as we’d like to pat ourselves on the back and say “we are a nation that embraces diversity,” we have not yet arrived.
Rather, there is an unspoken qualifier that underlies that statement, and I would argue a more accurate definition of the nation’s understanding of diversity is this: We are a nation that embraces diversity, to the extent that we deem you a valuable contributor to society.
The time is now for people of all colors, races, age, religions, genders or ways of life to recognize another group in our society that is too often left out when we throw out the word “diversity.” Simply put, they are the many men, women, boys and girls who are differently-abled and part of the special needs community. If as employers, educators, neighbors and churches….if as human beings, we are preaching to one another the value of diversity, then we must stand prepared to not only include, but to actively embrace those differently-abled members of the special needs community as our valuable equals.
Today is World Down Syndrome Day. Today, 3.21.14, I am thankful to be celebrating with many people around the globe, the remarkable men, women, boys and girls in our lives who help diversify the special needs community, particularly those that have three copies of the twenty-first chromosome. This day is also for celebrating the friends, family members and the many people around the world who work hard to advocate for the inclusion of people of all abilities.
So, today I celebrate my son.
Today I celebrate all the things that he can do and all the things that he will do for this world.
Today I celebrate my husband, for giving our son every opportunity to show the world that he is a valuable gift.
Today I celebrate my daughter, for being her brother’s greatest advocate, teacher and friend.
Today I celebrate my mother, who told me from day one to always keep my expectations high and our little guy will exceed them.
Today I celebrate family members and friends whose lives will never be the same after having loved this special boy.
Today I celebrate educators and advocates who stand with me in making sure that my son is included with his peer group and given every opportunity to learn new things.
Today I celebrate every therapist and teacher who has worked with him, encouraged me and celebrated his successes, no matter how big or small.
Today I celebrate his friends who have loved and accepted him and see him as valuable.
Today I celebrate the small percentage of parents who receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome during their pregnancies and choose to keep their babies’ lives because they are valuable.
Today I celebrate the families of other people with special needs who persevere through hard times, and continue to give, give and give more of themselves for their loved ones.
Most importantly, today I celebrate God my Father, who tells me in His Word, that He created each one of my children in His image. Thank you, Jesus, for these gifts.
Today I celebrate you, Seth. I love you very, very much and I cannot imagine my life without you in it. And as your mommy, I will celebrate you every day of my life.