Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

The article this week started out really dense. It was not boring, there was just a lot of information that needed to be processed in order to be able to understand the rest of the article. Once I got past the density, I absolutely loved the article! It was so interesting and I loved all the stories that were told. The struggle that those with Down Syndrome, as well as many other disabilities face, is absolutely unfair. What makes me sad is that those who deal with children who are disabled have all of the tools to help them, and some just do not know how to use those tools. It is so frustrating knowing that these children could be helped and those in power just don’t recognize that.  One quote that I really liked from the article was

 “It’s not like they come here to be labeled, or believe the label. We’re all here, kids, parents teachers, whoever,- it’s all about us working together, playing together, being together, and that’s what learning is. Don’t tell me any of these kids are being set up to fail”


This quote speaks volumes to me. These kids are out here trying their best and being so happy with the life that they have that sometimes they don’t even realize that they are being oppressed. They do not realize that what is happening to them is not fair in any way, shape, or form. Teachers and youth workers are given the tools to help all children succeed, there should not be any exceptions. Maybe I am biased, because I am a PASS worker with a young boy who has Down Syndrome. He is the happiest person I have ever met in my life, he tries so hard in school and it is so frustrating to see that some of his teachers are not using the tools that they have.

Social Justice Event

For my social justice event I attended a guest speaker at the college. His name was Chris Herren, and he was a former college basketball prodigy and NBA player. He struggled with addiction since his first year of college at BC, and continued to struggle for many years afterward. He was born and raised in Fall River, Massachusetts.  He travels around to high schools and college campuses around the United States to tell his story. He became addicted to cocaine at age 18, and that only spiraled into other drugs and substances in the years to come. Before college, he considered himself as a regular kid, who went out on the weekends and drank and smoked, but he would never get into anything else. When he reached college he felt a tremendous amount of pressure because he received a full basketball scholarship. In short, all of the things that he worked so hard to achieve went down the drain after he failed multiple drugged tests and lost his scholarship and was kicked out of school.

 By a miracle of a chance, he was given a second shot by Fresno State in California. He flew out there, but by then his addiction was full blown. He entered a rehab facility, but asked to leave early to witness the birth of his second child. He never went back to rehab and continued on struggling with his addiction. He played professional basketball both in the NBA and overseas, all the while maintaining his drug addiction. After some time and some help, he began to find his way and got sober. He has been sober ever since.

                I really think that this can be related to McIntosh’s idea of invisible privilege and power. Being a talented, white  basketball player from New England, no one thought that this kind of thing could happen to Chris, he didn’t even believe it himself. Throughout the whole presentation he was telling us how he always thought that he could stop, and he never viewed himself as an addict and that is what took him so long to get help and get sober. But since he was not actively paying attention to his problem, and neither was anyone else, it went unnoticed for a very long time, which is exactly what McIntosh said will happen.

The link above is to Chris Herren's website that will provide you with more insight into his life and his story.