The other day I saw someone post a picture of a guy wearing a white suit in line at what looked like the ER. This poor guy must have been mortified because from the picture it looked like he pooped his pants. The picture was taken from behind so the guy probably had no idea it was taken. Why?
That’s what I asked when I saw the picture. Now the acquaintance that posted the picture has alway posted dumb things. Usually I ignore them, but this one saddened me. What happened to the Golden Rule? What happened to respecting another person’s dignity?
Do unto others as you would have them do to you. In high school and college and volunteered and worked for a summer camp. Children’s Association For Maximum Potential Camp or C.A.M.P. Camp. A very special camp because we adapted all the activities so that children with disabilities could participate. It was an eye opening experience, to be a camp counselor, 15 years old, taking care of a child that couldn’t community their every day needs. Working with these children, taught me so much about dignity and empathy.
I remember my first camper was a 6 year old girl that had Angelman Syndrome. She didn’t talk, had difficulty walking and always appeared to be so happy. Those are some of the characteristics of Angelman Syndrome. Because of the disability she was born with causes severe intellectual development, I wasn’t sure what she could and couldn’t comprehend. Her parents indicated her mental age was equivalent to about a 1 year old. Stop and imagine this. Imagine being a 6 year old child, now imagine having difficulty walking, not being able to understand words, or any speech. Imagine waking up day-to-day, as a growing human being and possibly not having any thoughts on what’s going on around you and just following along as guided. Not being able to say I’m hungry, tired, full. It’s a very special life. You bring understanding, patience, and beauty to the world.
One day my camper had an upset stomach and already leaked through two changes of clothes. I already sent her other clothes to be washed but I couldn’t let her skip her activities while we waited for clean clothes. She only gets to experience camp once a year. So I dug through my, trunk of clothes and dressed her in my clothes. They were a little big but she still got to have fun.
That was just my very first camper. Over the next few years, throughout high school and college, I had the privilege of taking care of many special campers. Each one taught me different things about disabilities, enjoying every precious life, and respect others.
Remember, no matter how educated, talented, rich, or cool you believe you are, how you treat people ultimately tells all about yourself. Integrity is everything. Do you feel like people treat you the way you want them to? Have you treated them with the same respect or better if they have not?
HEAVEN’S VERY SPECIAL CHILD
A meeting was held quite far from Earth! It’s time again for another birth. Said the Angels to the LORD above, This Special Child will need much love. His progress may be very slow, Accomplishments he may not show. And he’ll require extra care From the folks he meets down there. He may not run or laugh or play, His thoughts may seem quite far away, In many ways he won’t adapt, And he’ll be known as handicapped. So let’s be careful where he’s sent, We want his life to be content. Please LORD, find the parents who Will do a special job for you. They will not realize right away The leading role they’re asked to play, But with this child sent from above Comes stronger faith and richer love. And soon they’ll know the privilege given In caring for their gift from Heaven. Their precious charge, so meek and mild, Is HEAVEN’S VERY SPECIAL CHILD.
by Edna Massionilla December 1981 The Optomist- newsletter for PROUD Parents Regional Outreach for Understanding Down’s Inc.