Monday, April 18, 2005

The Kids Are Going to Be OK

We had Karaoke for the students last week during Spring Fling. Most of the performances were not remarkable, and Simon from American Idol would have been most unkind. Still, it takes some self-confidence to sing into a mike in front of one's peers, and I didn't hear anyone jeering even the most awful performances. One fellow, though, was notable.

Our campus has some developmentally delayed high school students who come in and help in the library from time to time. The college students mostly take no notice of them, since there is nothing unusual about seeing them. However, one of these young men who happened to have Down's Syndrome decided to take the microphone and sing that 'NSync hit, "Bye, Bye, Bye." He was too shy to stand up on the stage, and so sang sitting down, so that you had to look closely to see who was performing. As the introduction began, I heard rhythmic clapping that began and grew, until I looked around to see what was going on. The young man was singing, and the conversation in the cafeteria had almost stopped. Students were looking at him, and rooting for him to do well. Honestly, he was one of the best performances of the day, but the encouragement in the room was almost palpable. When he finished, there was applause, which was missing for most of the "normal" college students' numbers.

I was very proud that the students took the time to cheer for a young man who has more challenges to face than most people. His instructor told me that he was very shy, and that this karaoke performance was a really big step for him.

Sometimes young people do the right thing all by themselves.

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