I’m a proud mom; my kids are always doing things that are “Facebook worthy”, and I post about them a lot. I have to see all their meltdowns, moments of defiance, and hear them whine and complain, so when they do something other than those things, I want everyone to know about it. They are funny, thoughtful little creatures, and I like to share about them. Hey, whatever gets a tired mom through the day, right?
Yesterday, I was so proud of Addie that I couldn’t even express to her how amazing she is. She arrived home from school, so excited to tell me all about a new project she and her friend decided to share with their friends. “Mommy, you know how kids think that special needs kids are weird and different,” she began (and yes, we later had a chat about how important it is to use person-first language…nobody gets a pass on that!). “Ok,” I answered, wondering where she was going with this. “Well, my friend and I decided that we need to help get these kids more included at school, so we went around asking our friends if they want to help us. We’re also going to raise money for DSACO (the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio), Miracle League, and Special Olympics.”
I just stood there, in awe of this little seven year old girl who has realized something that some adults still can’t grasp: inclusion is important, and necessary.
I felt emotions ranging from pride, admiration, love, and back to pride again. I listened to her go on and on about how her friends want to join Team Alex and come to the Buddy Walk, and how kids are just walking up to them and asking if they can make a donation. She has absolutely no idea what kind of impact she and her friend are having on their peers. They are teaching, by example, that everyone should be treated equally because we are all the same, and their peers are listening.
Two second grade girls are trying to change the world, or at least their world, by creating a more inclusive environment for kids at their school. They have named their project Giving Hearts, and so far they’ve collected a little over $20, which they have decided to split among three organizations. I’m still in awe.
Of course, I took to Facebook to share how great my kid is; not bragging, mind you, but truly sharing because I am just so impressed by the love Addie has for her brother, and the desire she has to see him being treated just like any other kid at their school. What makes this even more remarkable is that he can be a complete jerk to her, several times a day, and she is still willing to do this for him.
After reading my post on Facebook, someone commented that Addie is her mother’s child, and I was reminded once again that the kids are listening. We’ve never sat down with Addie and Andrew and told them that their role is to spread our mission of inclusion. She just gets it. The girl can’t remember to put her shoes away or put her dishes in the sink, but she is hearing the most important lessons. Beyond that, she is sharing these things, completely unprompted by her parents, with her peers.
I can’t wait to see what these girls can do with their Giving Hearts project. When we open up registration for Team Alex 2014 on World Down Syndrome Day (March 21st), the Giving Hearts donation will be among the first to be posted on the Columbus Buddy Walk site. Who knows what else they can accomplish?!
The kids are listening. They may leave their dishes and shoes all over the house, but they are most definitely hearing the important stuff. I’ll gladly take the messy house if it comes with a kid with such a giving heart.