"Grab a tissue," the Facebook post reads, "This Tucson sports moment went viral for all the right reasons."
In the video, which is made up of a pasting-together of student Snapchats, high schooler Alyna Macias, who is her school's girls' basketball team manager, is told she gets to finally play in a game. The game is the final JV game of the year.
Watching the video, it's clear that Alyna can play. She makes several baskets. The crowd goes wild.
Like, reallly wild.
Like, every child has their iPhone recording the moment.
At the end of the game, Alyna is interviewed for the local news, and a student waits impatiently to present her with an obscene bouquet of mylar balloons.
Alyna obviously loves basketball. She obviously knows how to play, and she is obviously well-respected by her peers. So why did this moment go viral? Why did her coach, and the coach of the opposing team, agree to "let her score?"
Because Alyna has Down syndrome.
"Awesome," Facebook commenters wrote, "I have faith in our young people again," "Inclusion for the win."
Inclusion? This isn't inclusion. Inclusion is inclusion. This is special treatment.
Yes, we are (hopefully) raising a generation of thoughtful, selfless, kind children who will become contributing, aware, kind adults. And we are hopefully allowing them to be good citizens without having to prove it with a video.
Nothing bothers me more than the self-serving, misty-eye-producing, sentimental videos smattering our interwebs these days - such as "Cheerleader asks boy with autism to prom." The amount of "Awwwwww!" happening behind the camera makes my stomach turn, and I always have to wonder if this amazing cheerleader and the "AUTISTIC BOY" [wrong phrasing, by the way; "people first" language is preferred} are still hanging out.
As a parent of a child with Down syndrome, I have to be insistent, every year, that our daughter receives an inclusive education. This means as much time as possible in the classroom with her typical peers, and the same opportunities as them to join a team, make a project, participate in a talent show, be Student of the Week, etc. My daughter does have special needs. I have needs that are special, too.
Parents all over the country join resources and supportive ears to others who are diligently navigating inclusive efforts for their children. Surprisingly, many states still do not offer educational options for full inclusion at all.
I'm sure Alyna's parents were touched by and grateful for the show of support that her daughter received during the game.
My hope for Alyna, going forward, is twofold: 1) that she "gets" to play in any game she wants to; and 2) that the overwhelming love and support of her peers continues, even if there's nothing special to record for social media.
by Emily Nielsen
"I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition."
All posts are copyright ©Emily Nielsen