My child is going to be in your class . . . well maybe not my actual child, but a child like mine.

I need your help. As you prepare for the new school year, I know you will be immersed in school supplies, paperwork, and all-the-teeny-tiny-details of the back to school rush; but I am hoping you do something that will far outweigh all these detail things.

I hope you talk to your kid about my kid.

Tell them their classroom might have a child who looks different; they might have a missing leg, or a missing ear, or medical equipment. There might be a child in a wheelchair or wearing braces on their legs, or even wearing a prosthetic. Tell your child this is not scary, and that all children need friends to play with.

Different is beautiful.

Tell them their school will have children that act differently. This might look like loud noises, or hand flapping, or just being quiet and never talking. Explain to your child that their brain works differently, and they would love a friend who learned to hear what they were trying to say.

Different is beautiful.

Let your child know there will be children of different colors and abilities. There will be kids with different kinds of families and homes. This is a beautiful thing because differences make the world interesting and amazing.

Most importantly, let your child know that my child is hoping and praying for a friend. My child is nervous and scared about all-the-things that make school hard, and he has the added piece of looking and acting a bit different. But inside, he is every bit the same as your child.

Inside, my child hopes that your child will be his friend this year. Because when he sat in my lap this week he quietly whispered, “I hope kids are nice at my new school”.

This post originally appeared on the author’s Facebook page

 

Stacey Gagnon

Stacey Gagnon is a passionate advocate for children in the areas of special needs, adoption and foster care. As a professional nurse, educator, author and speaker, Stacey has committed her life to bringing an informed voice to raise awareness, training and support for children in crisis and to those charged with their care. Mrs. Gagnon currently acts as Director of Trauma Lens Care where she provides training on trauma, substance abuse, and ACE’s in schools, jails, and public forums. Embodying her beliefs, Stacey is a mother of 7 children, 5 of which are adopted. Her critical work has resulted in the co-founding of Lost Sparrows, a non-profit that provides education and training to social service officials, government administration, and caregivers working with children in Eastern European orphanages and foster care.