To the world you may be one person
but to one person you may be the world
I am a bit late in posting this as Jalayne's first scholarship was awarded a few weeks ago. Still, this is a good place to remember the recipients and why they were chosen.
Quite some time ago we decided to put together a memorial scholarship in Laynee's memory. We wanted this scholarship to be different than most of those awarded at our school. We did not want the recipient to be chosen because of their grade point average or athletic ability. We established a list of criteria for the applicants and asked that a group of teachers nominate students based on the criteria. The criteria was that they be students who were outstanding role models, have positive attitudes, have displayed an extraordianary sense of compassion and service to others. Six students were selected and then asked to write an essay on the "your attitude toward the word retard as used in name calling" The essays were submitted to us anonymously.
All of the essay were excellent but there was one that stood out among them. This student closed his essay with these very profound words: "it seems they (persons with cognitve impairments) are without sin and only want to please. Imagine how much better our world would be if everyone had a heart so great as theirs. Perhaps the next time someone calls you a "retard" you should take it as a compliment and say "thank you."
Our pupose behind this scholarship is, of course to keep Laynee's memory alive. But also, to raise awareness of the offensive nature of the misuse of the word, a subject our family is passionate about. On the evening of the award presentation, I explained that the word "retarded" in the medical world simply means to be delayed or slowed in cognitive development. Our society has corrupted this word and when used in a negative or deragatory manner it dehumanizes some of the most innocent people in the world. I explained that, to hear this word used in name calling, is extremely offensive and distasteful to our family.
I suspect that many who were present that evening had never really thought about how hurtful this word is. The word has been so misused that most use it out of ignorance. Since Jamee is a part of this graduating class, many of those present were her friends. I hope that when that word comes to mind, they will stop to remember, before it slips from their tongue, that it is a slam to Jamee's brother and sister. Will Laynee's scholarship make a difference to even one? I cannot say for sure. We are only one small community. However, I do know that if they weren't already, everyone present that night is now aware that this word is terribly misused. They cannot pretend that they do not know. Maybe.........just maybe.........a few of them, upon hearing the word come from another's tongue, will tell of a little girl named Jalayne and how that word is a criticism to her.
Laynee's first scholarship went to a young man who is planning to attend Eureka college. At this time he is unsure of his major. Congratulation Patrick Simms. Make us all proud and remember .....
"Success without compassion is useless."