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“While she was at the ballet in Boston, Keenan Kampa took part in dance classes for intellectually disabled people and, in particular, for people with Down Syndrome. It was a real inspiration during her weak of intensive and rigorous training. These two hours a weak rapidly became a refuge amidst an overloaded time-table. One memory particularly marked Keenan: “Sometimes, we spent a long time teaching them dance moves. They did everything thing they could to reproduce them as best as possible. At the end of the class, we would just let them dance and redo the choreography we had taught them. One of the girls started to dance but very fast, taking no notice whatsoever of the moves she had learnt, very freely, just following the rhythm. She was so happy to dance, laughing at herself for feeling so free! It was so nice!”
… and the siblings!
The arrival of a child with Down Syndrome or any other genetic intellectual disease causes a real turmoil among the siblings. The fear parents often have when disability enters into the family is often quickly swept away by the siblings’ reaction.
At home, a little boy is enumerating the qualities of his brothers and sisters:
-My big brother is very strong! My big sister is very pretty! And my little brother is very down!
In the school yard, a little boy is mocking a little girl:
– You sister is lame: she has Down Syndrome !
Back home the little girl tells her mother about what happened. The latter is not sure what to say and feels a bit disconcerted by what the boy said so she asks her children what they think about it. Very naturally, the little girl answers her mother:
– No, well, it doesn’t really matter to us. We just feel sad for the little boy who doesn’t really know our sister… it’s just too bad for him!
In a CLIS
A CLIS is a specialized class in an ordinary school to help disabled children to integrate. In one of these classes, the teacher asked her pupils to work on a theme: disability. The idea was to make videos within the framework of the year dedicated to disability and take part in an academic competition. The teacher tried to get her pupils, all living with a genetic intellectual disease, to reflect on disability. She asked them what they thought being disabled meant. The answers were prompt in coming out:
-It is when someone can’t walk.
-It’s when someone can’t hear or see.
-Very well. But do you think one can be disabled in one’s head?
The pupils looked at the teacher with surprise, a feeling of uneasiness floated though the air for a moment…
-Well,… of course not Madam!
An integration class for disabled pupils welcomed children with physical disabilities. The teacher asks his pupils to help the physically disabled children by pushing their wheelchair or by helping them to walk. Ludivine, living with Prader-Willi Syndrome, was helping a young girl in a wheelchair. Ludivine is not a fan of physical exercise and even less so of walking. While pushing the wheelchair in the school yard, she cries out with a bit of envy in her voice:
– Well, she is lucky to be in a chair and not being able to walk! At least, she doesn’t have to walk!