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Mom Writes a Powerful Letter After Her Son Was Excluded From a Birthday Party Because He Has Down Syndrome
When Jennifer Kiss-Engele's son, Sawyer, was intentionally not invited to a birthday party that included his 22 classmates, the hurt mom wrote an open letter on Facebook. She specifically addressed the parent of the birthday child, but wanted to make her post a "valuable lesson for all."
The Canadian mom explained why Sawyer wasn't invited to the party.
"I know it's not because he's mean, you couldn't meet a happier child. I know it's not because he's not fun, he has a great sense of humour and an infectious laugh. I know it's not because your child and him don't get along, he's brought up your child's name on several occasions. The only reason why you decided it was OK to not invite my son to your child's birthday party is because he has Down Syndrome," she wrote.
"I am not mad at you," she continued.
"You see, having Down Syndrome doesn't mean that you don't want to have friends. It doesn't mean that you don't have feelings. It doesn't mean you don't like to go to birthday parties. People with Down Syndrome want the same things that you and I want. They want to have close relationships, they want to feel love, they want to contribute, they want to have meaningful lives, and they want to go to birthday parties. "
Kiss-Engele admitted that she used to be "scared, uncertain and misinformed about Down Syndrome," like many other people. But, Sawyer is just like any other child and has even taught his siblings to be "compassionate individuals."
"This is a great opportunity and life lesson to have with your child. They will remember the time that their parent said to them, it's not OK to leave someone out because of their disability, race, or gender."
She regrets not taking the time to educate Sawyer's class about Down Syndrome at the beginning of the year.
"I realize that it's my obligation as his parent and advocate to educate people more about what it means to have Down Syndrome and how they are more like you than different. I now know how important it is to talk about it and it's something I am committed to doing a better job of."
Her Facebook post went viral, receiving more than 27,000 likes and an outpouring of positive feedback from supporters and other families who have children with special needs. The family also appeared on CTV news to spread their message of inclusion further.
Kiss-Engele later posted a "happy ending" update, saying that the parent spoke to the child and they hosted a special birthday party just for Sawyer.
"He's been beaming ever since," she wrote.
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