There is a happy ending to the story of Sawyer, a Langley boy with Down syndrome who was the only child in his class not invited to a birthday party.
“The parent read my letter, spoke to their child about Sawyer, and the child created a special birthday invite for Sawyer. Of course, he’s been beaming ever since, and can’t stop talking about it,” said Sawyer’s mom, Jennifer Kiss-Engele.
The mother of three wrote the open letter on her Facebook page on June 23, in an effort to educate people, as well as to advocate for her son and help prevent something similar from happening to other children.
In her letter, Kiss-Engele wrote: “People with Down syndrome want the same things that you and I want.”
They want to have close relationships, they want to feel love, they want to contribute, they want to have meaningful lives, and they want to go to birthday parties.”
“I want you to know that I was also like you. I was scared, uncertain and misinformed about Down syndrome before having my son. . . Maybe you are struggling with the words to say to your child because your child did not want my son at their birthday party.
“Maybe you let your child decide that it was OK to single someone out.
But this is a great opportunity and life lesson to have with your child. They will remember the time that their parent said to them, it’s not OK to leave someone out because of their disability, race, or gender.”
The words penned by Kiss-Engele struck a chord with people around the world.
Her Facebook letter was shared more than a 1,000 times and was picked up by the Daily Mail in the UK and US Weekly and Time magazines, as well as by media outlets in Australia.
“I’m really proud that my letter has reached so many people because it’s not just this birthday party and it’s not just Sawyer. There are so many kids with special needs (and without, of course) that just don’t make the cut. I think as parents we all need to do a better job of fostering these relationships, myself included,” Kiss-Engele said on Monday.
“I hope that parents who read this will help open that dialogue with their own child and perhaps make that one ‘extra’ invitation.”