An Illinois mom wrote an open letter to parents after her son with Down syndrome was shunned at their community pool.
Kristen Rumphol said her 11-year-old son, Brandon, was at the swimming pool for three days last week and attempted to play with other kids, to no avail.
“Today while at the swimming pool my heart was breaking! You see NO ONE wanted to play with my son. He would go up to other kids and say 'hi boy or hi girl,’” Rumphol wrote in the letter posted to Facebook. “Every single time the kids would either look at him weird and say nothing or just swim away.”
Rumphol said her son is non-verbal and it broke her heart to see kids avoiding interacting with him.
“I don’t believe that all kids have to play with my son,” Rumphol said. “I think it starts at home with the parents teaching the kids not to ignore people. I don’t think it’s all about about special needs children. It’s teaching them to be compassionate.”
Since Rumphol shared the letter on June 2, it has been shared more than 13,000 times. The mom said she has received an outpouring of support from so many people.
A local bakery sent cupcakes to Brandon, the local fire department is scheduled to take him on a tour, and a teen lifeguard from another nearby pool invited Brandon to enjoy the day there.
Rumphol said she hopes her letter causes people to look at people with disabilities differently.
“It [the experience] made me feel that the world is not accepting of all the different abilities that are out there,” Rumphol said. “We really don’t teach him that he has a disability. We just teach him that he has different abilities.”