Confidence is not something the 22-year-old Parker lacks. She’s the only student at UTC with Down syndrome, but its limitations are simply things for her to overcome, not hold her back. Although she usually has someone with her while she’s on campus, she’s unafraid to go it alone. Friends, family and teachers say she loves to learn, studies religiously, turns her assignments in on time and has an active on-campus social life.
I doubt seriously that UTC intended this post to be a pro-life statement, but given that in some places Down’s Syndrome children have been driven to extinction due to abortion, it really is. Many parents are looking to have brilliant children who will “change the world,” but what we really need is more who will be diligent to the task in front of them while bringing joy, skills which elude many people these days. Down’s Syndrome people can have productive, happy lives as this one does; we just have to give them a chance and the support.
And speaking of support, I’d like to give a shout-out to something that the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga does really well: its support for people with learning and other disabilities. I’ve had the opportunity to work with the Disability Resource Center and their work with these people–and the faculty who teach them–is exemplary.