An Open Letter To The Newspaper That Excluded Our Special Kids

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“I’m not looking for special treatment, I’m just asking for our kids to be treated equally”

 

Last week my son participated in the Opening Day Parade and ceremony for the Cumberland Youth Baseball League here in Rhode Island. My son is a player on the Challenger team for children with disabilities. During the ceremony my son was selected along with 2 other children to throw out the opening day pitch. This was a very exciting moment for him and our local newspaper was there to document this moment as well as the entire parade and festivities. At the end of the day, the photographer asked for our son’s name, age, and had me sign a release form to use the photo.

I was SO excited to get the publication 2 days ago and quickly turned to the page where the opening day photos were featured. I kept turning from page to page only to find that my son was not there. The other 2 kids were there, so where was my son? In fact, there were no pictures of the kids from the challenger team. NOT. ONE. Maybe they were on another page? Let me look again I thought to myself, yet, those photos I was desperately hoping to find were not there. The only pictures featured were of the non challenger team kids.

In an effort to contact the editor of this newspaper asking why and HOW this could happen, this was the response I got:

“we treated those photos just as we treat all others. Some make it, some don’t”

I’m sorry, but how did ALL of the pictures of the challenger team NOT make it?

The editor went on to say that I was “looking for special treatment”.

No. I was not looking for special treatment. I was asking for my son and the other children on the challenger team to be treated EQUALLY”!!

Furthermore, the editor continued to be rude and condescending saying “it seems to us in the newsroom it’s not discrimination. To us and our photo editor it was just pictures of kids who turned out on opening day baseball day”

Well, to our special needs community here in Rhode Island it was discrimination. Would you call it acceptance? Your newspaper completely left out our amazing kids from your feature on opening day. How do you not see the wrong in this? Every single picture you included in your story was of players who were “typical” and not on the challenger team.

Shame on you. You are journalists. You should do better than this. Our kids deserve better than this. Instead of being an example for your readers and sending a message about equality, you sent a message that the special needs kids don’t matter as much as the typical kids. Big mistake and you missed out on such a great opportunity to educate our community about the importance of inclusion.

The banner that the challenger kids walk with has this quote ” Never Let the Fear of Striking out Keep You from Playing the Game”.

These kids amaze me. They teach us. They work hard. They love the game. They are special and I want them to know that we are all cheering for them.

Sincerely,

A mom on a mission to make a change

 

 

 

 

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