Best Keep People with Down Syndrome at Home

This is a picture of Rachel from 2001.  It was taken at my friend Vanessa’s farm. I love it because it captured then and now her personality.

rachel a vanessa farm

Sometimes when we face ignorance and stupidity, I go to the picture box and reminisce. I find comfort and God’s wisdom there somehow.

Over the past week there was an outcry in the Down syndrome community regarding a letter to the editor in Fredericksburg News Post.  The letter was from Gary Jenkins, brother of Sheriff Chuck Jenkins of Fredericksburg. Brief history: January 12, 2013 Ethan Saylor went to a movie. He had gone to many movies. He didn’t come home. He died at the hands of three off duty law enforcement officers. Ethan Saylor was an adult man with Down syndrome and he died from a crushed larynx, asphyxiation. You didn’t know? He was just an adult man with Down syndrome. He was a loved son, family member and community member. The media didn’t cry out for justice. On Monday the Huffington Post picked up this piece Mardra Sikora, According to Jenkins, Best to Keep a Person with Down Syndrome at Homes.

I’ll let you read the pieces yourself and come to your own conclusions.  I would like to say that I do not believe this mentality is indicative of all people in this community, and I do think that training is a step in the right direction. No more of my commentary on that though.

As I saw this unfold and as I now read this, I can’t help but think “this could be Rachel.” She has Down syndrome. Do you think I should keep her home?  Then, I received this from a good friend of my who teaches in Arkansas.

Just wanted to share with you the impact that Rachel makes, even when she doesn’t realize it. I am currently teaching a Leadership Service Learning class. This week we are examining the Character Trait of Respect. Today I introduced to the students that no matter who you are, respect should be given and how everyone needs to make a difference in whatever way they can. Then we talked about respect through diversity and how we are all alike. Then I showed them the “Just Like You” video which opened great discussion about all that Rachel does to bring respect for others. The kids thought it was awesome and many said they had learned a lot through the video. I will be interested to see how this discussion continues throughout the week.”

I don’t think Rachel should stay home.

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  1. I don’t think Rachel should stay at home either. 🙂

    On training, let me chime in, I *do* support further training of our first responders. But I don’t think that’s why Ethan Saylor was killed. From all of the reports I’ve seen and followed, this tragedy was, at best, use of excessive force and at worst, a hate crime.

    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Mardra – thank you for writing such a great piece and that HP picked up is awesome. I didn’t mean to imply you weren’t for training. I just wanted to clarify my thoughts. What I do know is that I know Patti Saylor and I horrified that any parent would have this happen and then have people insinuate she was not a good parent or should have kept her adult son with Down syndrome home. Thanks for bringing attention to this.

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