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Ivan Mendoza, 18, a senior at Crawford High School in San Diego, is getting the royal treatment from his classmates. When his classmates found out that Mendoza, who has Down syndrome, was on the ballot for Homecoming King, all the other candidates bowed out so that he could win the title.
Sweet gesture, right?
Sure the kids meant to be nice and caring, but are "gestures" like these, which sound warm and fuzzy from the outside, really accomplishing what they aim to?
The students went to great lengths to make sure Ivan won -- isn't that singling him out as "different"? The students wouldn't have done this for a student who didn't have extenuating circumstances. It’s the same as saying, “Hey, let us do this for you because if we don’t, there is no way in hell you can win!”
I’m not saying what they did was wrong, but if the goal is to be treated like one of the gang, this “gesture” fell short. Who wants an achievement gained out of pity or because people underestimate your abilities? If Ivan is truly a student who everyone loves at the school and he’s earned the title of Homecoming King by representing all the qualities deemed necessary to win, then this was a very kind act on behalf of the students.
I don't have a child with Down syndrome so I can’t speak on behalf of a parent who does. However, speaking for myself, I wouldn't want to be singled out as “different” and given special treatment because of what others might see as a disability. Why not run against him and then trust in your fellow students to choose him as Homecoming King for all that he has accomplished in spite of his Down syndrome instead of bowing out because of his Down syndrome?
Don’t we all just want to be treated with the same respect and consideration as everyone else and not singled out as being “different”?
Do you think gestures like this work positively or negatively in regards to helping children like Ivan feel less "different"?
Image via xjyxjy/Flickr