“Don’t limit me!” These are the brave and powerful words of Megan Bomgaars. In her YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOwDfnoek6E#aid=P8462ycfU7A) , Megan described her happy and accomplished life. She made many friends in school, was a member of her high school cheerleading team, became a fashion model after high school, and is currently learning how to be a public speaker. Megan accomplished all of these feats while also being a person with Down syndrome. However, it is obvious that Megan never let it impede her from obtaining her goals. In her video, Megan explains that her successful life is the result of a teaching style that she firmly believes in, and that style includes not limiting children with disabilities.
On many occasions, children with disabilities or special needs are ostracized from the normal school experience. They are often put into different classes, held up to lower expectations than other students, and not included in “the circle of learning”. This special treatment is one of the limitations that are placed on students with disabilities. Though teachers that implement this treatment may have good intentions at heart, they are not preparing these students for the world outside of their protective classrooms. Instead of isolating students with disabilities, teachers should include them in regular classroom activities. “Think about how I have the same needs as all students. We all need life skills. We all need work skills.” said Megan, and she makes an excellent point. No matter what kind of learner someone may be, all students need to learn the same basic concepts in school to succeed in life.
When students with disabilities or special needs are included in the circle of learning, they, like Megan, have a greater chance of having a prosperous life. Yes, a person with special needs can have a prosperous life, though many would not be fully convinced. One of the many was a mom, who was expecting a baby that had been diagnosed with Down syndrome. Worried, she asked, “I’m scared: what kind of life will my child have?” The future mom received a response from 15 people with Down syndrome from around the world (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ju-q4OnBtNU). They told her of the many things that her son will be able to do, and each activity that they described is something that any person would be able to do. These 15 people are communicating to the future mom that her son will not be defined by his diagnosis, but rather he will live a happy life, and so will she with him. However, they do not deny that it will never be difficult or, as one person says, “almost impossible”. But then, this is followed by the ingenuous and universally true statement, “But isn’t it like that for all mothers?” These 15 strong people are doing much more than answering this future mom’s question; they are demolishing the age-old stereotypes connected to people with Down syndrome. They are showing the world that people with Down syndrome and other disabilities can live lives that are happy, independent, and free.
– Written by Cierra Moore (Leadership Team Member)