Children with disabilities are faced with different challenges than their peers.
Between 2015 and 2016, more than 6.7 million children were enrolled in special education services, the National Center for Education Statistics reports. Of these children, it’s a sad fact that many will encounter bullying and stigmatizing behavior— but this story is a reminder that there’s also good in the world.
A few years ago, Meghan Bailey, a 17-year-old with Cerebral Palsy was crowned Homecoming Queen at her Colorado high school.
As you can imagine, the beautiful redhead was ecstatic with the news.
She had been crowned alongside Brad Cooley, a popular boy at school.
For the homecoming dance, Meghan planned to take Ian Brennan, a fellow student with Down syndrome.
The two had been friends since they were 5 years old and were excited to finally have their first date.
But, when they arrived at the dance, they were surprised to see Cooley approach them with his crown.
In an interview with The Denver Channel, Cooley said:
“Something didn’t feel right to me. It didn’t feel like I was the one who was supposed to have it.”
“There was something in me that was like— I just felt like it would be better deserved for someone else.”
In an unexpected twist, Cooley handed his title down to Ian— giving the couple a perfect ‘first date’ night.
Meghan’s mother Heidi Bailey couldn’t hold back the tears.
“It made me cry. It was amazing to have just the sweetness of sharing that moment. It was really amazing.”
And for Ian’s family, the action was particularly special.
Ian’s mother had passed away from liver cancer only 2 months before. His father, Jim Brennan described her as his hero, and the loss clearly had a big impact on their lives.
“It was really overwhelming,” he said. “So, it’s [Cooley’s action] very, very special.”
“It was a special night and a special memory, and we’re going to hold on to that one.”
This story seems to speak volumes about the benefits of inclusive education.
According to PBS, research shows that when a child with disabilities attend classes alongside peers who don’t have disabilities, it produces “positive academic and social outcomes” for all parties involved— and this story is one of those cases.
Brad Cooley’s simple act of kindness meant the world to these two teens.
It’s especially refreshing in light of recent stories like this one, where a teen with Down syndrome is banned from his school’s cheerleading squad for not fitting in with their “image’. Sadly, despite how far we’ve come, many people still aren’t willing to see the beauty in these precious souls. Acts of kindness like Cooley’s, let us know that there’s still hope.
Hear the touching story below.
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