Friday, October 19, 2012

31/21: Jessie Flips About People First Language

This is Jessie's answer to a question from Erin last week about people first language. 

I Am Jessie

Language is what we speak, and we can choose what words we say and we can choose our words wisely. It’s wise NOT to use the “R” word, we probably all know that. And call out other people when they do. That’s hard but important.  Once at my church I had talked about ending the use the the “R” word. In general ,most people in the world say this word in casual conversations, and they don’t realize that it’s hurtful and offensive to other people. Especially all people of all abilities. We need to focus on the word Ability. And Respect.  We need to be careful of what we say and how we say it.

It’s just as important to use people first language. That means that the PERSON comes first. Sometimes people think that if it isn’t rude, then it’s okay. But I would never say I am Downs. I’m not, I’m Jessie! Down syndrome is a part of me, but it is not all of me. Here’s a poem  about  how I feel about having Down syndrome. This was long time ago when I was younger. (It was turned into a dance for the DandelionDance Company, we recorded me saying it and my cousin wrote the music for it) and we performed it all across the country!

You can share it. I’d love you to share it! But please say that it was by me. That I wrote it. So you can share it but say © Jessie Huggett, 2004 and say where you found it (at my mom’s blog, until I start my own). And if you do share it, could you tell me about it?


I am 
I am Jessie.
I am beautiful.
I am graceful.
I am enthusiastic.
I am silly.
I am helpful.
I am loving.
I am brave.

I dream.
I dance my emotions.
My heart is filled with love.
I have.
I have Down syndrome.
Something extra.
A chromosome.

Sometimes when people look at me,
I feel that they don't see the real me.
They only see some kid with Down syndrome.
Down syndrome is a big part of me,
but it is not all of me.
It's not all of me.

I love to laugh.
I love to have a good time.
I love to fool around with my friends.
I like writing stories.
I like dancing and singing.
And I love people.

Be happy for who you are in your heart.
That is true!

People with Down syndrome should be allowed in schools.
They should be treated equally--equally in their hearts.
They should be involved in sports, like basketball, football.
They should dance and sing!

Sometimes people do not understand me
at all.
Sometimes I do not fit in.
At school sometimes people treat me badly and 
don't understand me.

They see a girl who has Down syndrome.
They do not see who I really am.

My personal feelings are:
be gentle, do no fight. 
And fight for your rights!

I am Jessie
I have 
I have Down syndrome

I have friends and people who love me.
I have emotions and laughter
and people who love me.

I give my gifts,
I give my beautiful thoughts.
I give my lovely dreams.

Come, share with me:
My dreams,
Your thoughts,
We WILL change the world. 

© Jessie Huggett, 2004

(my mom says she would put an audio link in for the whole piece, if she could figure out how to do it!)


Cindy said...

Wow Jessie this is really good! You're a great writer!

Erin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erin said...


Thank you for answering my question so beautifully. I was moved both by your response and your poem. I plan to share this post far and wide!

Nan said...

On the same topic, from a young man's point of view, observed & told by one of my hero's Dave Hingsburger, a MUST read for all parents of children and youth with Down syndrome:

Michelle said...

What a beautiful, and wise, poem!

Little Cottage on the Pond said...

I also correct others when using the r word, or when they say "a Down's baby/child/adult". My daughter is Sara and she has Down Syndrome- but she is so much more! (as is your beautiful daughter!)

Nan said...

Thanks Patricia ... oh my goodness your "little house on the pond" is an inspiration!!!!!!!!!