There was a toddler with a royal blue ball gown and a tiny silver tiara in her hair. There was a chubby-cheeked infant boy sporting a preppy navy dress shirt and shorts and a summery tan fedora. A 12 year old boy made us ooh and aah with his skills with a hula hoop and a spin ball. He wasn't that good--but his happy spirit and attempts to make the audience laugh made him spectacular. A group of elementary-aged girls in a dance troupe performed for us, and their team member with Down Syndrome, while she didn't keep up exactly, showed that she was fully included and appreciated. The teens who modeled either hammed it up or shyly came on stage with their siblings, who urged them to take their moment to shine. The final fashion show participant, a popular 22 year old guy with a tie, showed off his Ric Flair moves and got wild applause.
|A toddler announced as a girl who likes guacamole....who doesn't? (Identity protected by the very bleached out photos I took)|
I got a little teary each time a child came on stage. No matter who was on stage, the crowd went wild. Every kid who took the stage deserved to know that they were beautiful. Some have already been called names, and others have hit that moment when they realize that they are different from others. As parents, we tell them that they are beautiful, but in one word, someone can strip that away. My daughter Evie is only 3, and thinks she's the center of the universe, but one day, someone may tell her that she looks funny or actually use the "r" word. We need more events like this to show children of all abilities and backgrounds that they are valued and worthy of love and appreciation. The more that we spread awareness that children with disabilities are beautiful in every sense of the word, the less ignorance there will be in this world.
|A crowd of beautiful kids.|
Frank Lloyd Wright said " If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it." If we ignore the beauty in those with disabilities, we miss out on the beauty that they can offer and thus miss out on how they can enrich our own lives. I'd like to issue a challenge to anyone reading this--find someone with a disability this week and tell them that they are beautiful, or point out something wonderful about them. I promise you that the reward will be immeasurable for them and for you.