The Building Blocks of Inclusion: Times of Good Fights & Good Peace

I write a lot about acceptance of Down syndrome. I believe in the ultimate value of acceptance. I believe in the good fight. 

And with the good fight, there is also a time of good peace. 
That is the place I am in now. It’s summertime after all. Wil is moving to a new school in the fall, yet in the same school district. There will be changes, but being in the same district many aspects will remain the same. Wil will have a new resource room, new teachers and familiar teachers, a new paraprofessional he will share with likely 3-4 other students. I don’t know who those other students will be yet and how they will mesh. 

If Wil was going into kindergarten, I would be in the good fight mode. I would be nervous about the multitude of changes. How will they know all of his capabilities? Many of the tests taken don’t show what he can do. That is the benefit of being in the same district. The teachers communicate. While tests have their value in certain areas, person-to-person communication rises a-thousandfold over any black and white test. 

I recently talked to a mother who has a young child with Down sydnrome. She is in the good fight mode. She was full of vigor about her good fight with the schools for inclusion. I listened to her with admiration, and remembered those early days. There were so many unknowns. There still are, but I’m in a different place with that now. We’ve been in this district now from preschool through 6th grade. I know we will have hurdles to cross next year. We always do. But I know enough at this point what to anticipate, and many changes will be handled on a day-to-day process. This will change as he becomes a young adult, and I will again be in a place of bigger unknowns. But right now, that is far enough away that I need to plan for it, but not be in the good fight yet. Right now, it is summer time. I’m so much enjoying the good peace. It’s not about letting my guard down, or believing everything is gonna be just fine. I don’t believe I have that kind of luxury. Inclusion is not a given. But there is a time when we can take a deep breath and enjoy the place where we are. 

Every Thursday when Wil goes to Special Olympics golf, I never forget to be thankful for this opportunity. I’m eternally grateful for those who gave the good fight to create Special Olympics and continue to grow this amazing program. It is a luxury to sign Wil up and show up. That’s it. I didn’t have to fight for that because someone else did. They made way for this time of good peace for our family. Progress doesn’t happen in a time of good peace. Progress happens with the good fight.

And still, our hearts need good peace times to fill up. To gain strength in the appreciation we have right here, right now. We live that good fight almost every day. It becomes a habit of sorts. Meeting this young mother who is in the middle of the good fight reminded me of that. 

All of life is a balance. We gain strength from both the good fight and the good peace. Right now, in this summertime, I will take a deep breath from the good peace and be thankful. I do not know what this Fall brings, but I will be refreshed and recharged to build or cross those bridges when the time comes.

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