Friday, October 12, 2012

31/21: Jessie Flips About Inclusion

A while ago Jessie started contributing to the blog by recording video segments on her Flip video camera (hence Jessie Flips) about random topics that meant something to her. When I asked her to share her thoughts about inclusion with others (especially parents of littler ones) for the 31 for 21 challenge, she agreed to start the tradition back up again, but wanted to start by writing something first. Please note, this is ALL hers, including where the new paragraphs start. Fridays will be Jessie Flips days … and you may get a video or something she wrote. If you have anything you’d like her opinion on or you would like her to write about, just post a comment and she’ll start a list.

Hey fellow bloggers!! I’m so excited to be back and to write for all of you again. I hope all of you had a wonderful thanksgiving. Today I want to talk to you about inclusion, but first I want to give you a bit of a background to what inclusion is. All of us have basic human rights and some of those rights are the freedom of protection from harm, the right to play, the right to an education and the right to be included.

I’m Jessie Huggett, I’m 22 years old and I have Down syndrome. And when I was in high school I was the only person with an intellectual/developmental disability who was in the regular mainstream classes. To me high school was a bit of a challenge because other people were laughing at me and judging me because of my disability. I felt alone, I felt as if I didn’t fit in. And the only friends I had were in lunch club. But my mom and I made a group with other high school friends that I had made and we had called it the J-Squad. The J-Squad helped me with socializing and getting involved in extra circular activities where I could and would learn new things and make new friends. It really helped me to fit in, this group really helped me to be more included.

In a high school setting there are lots of difficulties and challenges where people label and judge people with different abilities  but if you ground yourself with friends and you socialize with others you have a solid ground and a solid base where you can stand up for what you believe in, and the people that are behind you 100% will follow in your footsteps.

I highly recommend that your son/daughter should be included in the community and at school. It’s really important that your son/daughter contributes to the community, it is also really important to be social and to make new friends. And to parents out there I suggest you should believe in your child’s gifts and talents, advocate for your child and tell them that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

Sure, going through high school can be a challenge and is hard but my mom, dad and I are really proud of what we did. We advocated, we fought for my rights and we accomplished lots of milestones. I agree that inclusion is hard, but it’s worth the hard times because it’s important to be equal. We all learn from people of different abilities. If we don’t go to school together then how can we learn from each other?  But if we do go to school together we can make and build friendships and relationships. 


Michelle said...

Great post Jessie, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences! I have a question for you about when you were in the regular education classes - aside from how the students treated you at times, how did you yourself feel sitting in the regular education classes? Was the work too hard? Was it over your head? Did you understand what was being taught? Did you have modified work? How did it make you feel if you weren't doing quite the same work as your classmates?

Kayla is only 9, but this year she is in regular education classes, with some pull outs to the resource room. I've been told that during some of the time in the regular classroom the teachers/administrators feel like since the work is too hard for her right now and she's not doing 3rd grade level work that it's making her feel bad about herself and and as she gets older will cause low self-esteem. Just wondering what your experience was like in that regard.

Erin said...

Hi Jessie-I really enjoyed reading your thoughts about inclusion today! I would love to hear what you think about person/people first language. I have heard some debate recently about whether that movement is parent driven vs. being driven by individuals with Down syndrome. Opponents would argue that there is nothing wrong with saying, "My daughter Jessie is Downs." Proponents would phrase it, "My daughter Jessie has Down syndrome." Which do you prefer, and why? Thanks!

Oh, and my daughter Carrigain (who has DS) is 5 and loves to dance as much as you do!

Nan said...

Michelle, Erin: I am going to print these out for Jessie. She just left the house and doesn't come home until after fitness tonight, around 8, then teaches tomorrow ... She will read these and then ...well, we haven't figured that out yet! Each of these seem like a post in themselves to me. One on people first language, one on curriculum. As a mom note: Jessie would often say that the best label for her would be "creative" (that's particularly people first don't you think?) and Michelle ... work is too hard ... oh there are so many ways around that that are inclusive! Ways to include ALL children (even into highschool) in the curriculum at their level. I will first let Jessie answer from her point of view and experience tho. Hope that makes sense!

Jessie said...

Hi Michelle, Hi Erin!
I got your questions and i read them over. They are really good questions i look forward to answering them. This Friday i will do people first language because it'll take me longer to think and to write about school work. PS: (here's a hint, i am Jessie)