The other day I watched a short profile on ESPN of a dad named Heath White, who has a daughter with Down Syndrome. He was brutally honest about how before she was born he didn’t want her and tried to do everything he could to avoid having her. He is an Air Force Aviator who has always been accustomed to winning at everything. He didn’t want a liability in his life.
And then he fell in love with his perfect baby, Paisley White — with all of her. He fell in love with her weaknesses and strengths, her struggles and her triumphs, her beauty, her love. He tattooed the words ‘Down Syndrome’ onto his chest so that those who looked at her and saw her diagnosis would see the same when they looked at him. He wants nothing but her happiness. She is his star.
At one point, he says a few words about what he asks of the world. “My fear is…” Heath said, “someone making fun of her because she’s different. Having to explain to her about society.” He continued to say only that he didn’t want her humiliated, ridiculed, called names and left on the wrong end of injustice. That’s it. He didn’t say he only wanted her safe from injustice in his town or State. He said he wanted her safe in the world.
That’s what the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is all about: making her safe in the world.
If Senators and their staffers could just see that one Air Force leader and his daughter, I don’t think any of them would balk at making the United States a full partner in the hope of a world united in trying to protect and defend that one little girl.
The U.S. Senate vote on Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is tomorrow.
The CRPD establishes international standards regarding the rights and freedoms of people with disabilities and creates a common basis for greater civic participation and self-sufficiency. The CRPD reflects both core American values and core Special Olympics values of the dignity of the individual, equal access to justice, healthcare and the chance to participate fully as a member of society.
As we show our support of the US Senate ratification of the CRPD and celebrate today’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I wonder, what does equality mean to you?
You can share your vision here.