Stacey Gagnon has opened her home and heart to special needs kids. And she’s pleading with parents to teach their children about differences after her own kids get called things like “monster” at school.
God gave Stacey Gagnon a heart for kids who society considers “different”. The Arizona nurse and her husband have six children, four of which are adopted.
Several of Stacey’s kids have special needs ranging from Spina Bifida, Goldenhar Syndrome, hearing impairments, limb differences, and so on. But as Stacey points out, “all these big names do not slow our children down.”
When Stacey Gagnon looks at her children, it’s not their differences or special needs that stand out. She sees the beautiful spirit and special gifts God gave each one.
But too often, her precious children suffer stares, shunning, and cruel taunts. So, she’s pleading with parents everywhere to talk to their kids about the beauty to be found in each one of our differences.
"If you don't teach your child about kids like mine, I'll teach my child about kids like yours,” she says.
The Challenges Of Being ‘Different’
Children with disabilities are just like other kids. They want to play and make friends — dream and laugh.
Sadly, though, the adversity they face for “being different” can make this challenging.
Once, Stacey Gagnon recounted the humiliation her son Joel faced when attending a new church. Joel was born with a craniofacial impairment and is missing an ear. And as Stacey walked him to the room for the children’s church, she watched her son’s face burn red with shame as the reaction from the class crushed him.
“The minute we walked inside, the room became silent and every child stared or pointed at my son,” she recounted on Facebook. “I stopped and looked to the back of the room where my son had fled to hide. He had buried his head in his arms because you cannot hide in plain sight.”
This is why Stacey spends so much of her time trying to educate others about special needs. She’s a fierce advocate, not just for her own children, but for all who just wanted to be accepted and loved for who they are.
But like all loving parents, seeing her children kids suffer is painful. And seeing Joel so discouraged that day ripped at her heart.
“In the past, I have always stepped into the role of teacher to educate kids,” Stacey Gagnon said about walking into that classroom with her son. “This has happened before, and I would step in and talk about differences, but today I did not. Today, I did not teach someone else’s kid because I was too busy holding my broken-hearted son.”
Stacey Gagnon Speaks Out For Special Needs
Moments like these happen far too often to Stacey’s kids. And it’s agonizing for the mom each time one of her children shares the cruel words and actions they experience simply because they are different.
“Mommy, he called me a monster.”
“Mommy, they said I'm too slow to play.”
“Mommy, why did God make me this way?”
Stacey Gagnon openly shares about the heartbreak her kids face as a result of their “differences” in the hopes it will raise awareness and inspire others to be more accepting of special needs. She knows that many of the kids her children encounter aren’t trying to be hurtful. It’s just the first time they are seeing someone with these kinds of special needs.
And that’s where the parents come in. Without showing our kids how to love and accept those who are different from us, things like bullying will never end.
“Teach them they will get to meet all kinds of people in this world,” Stacey Gagnon advises. “People who use wheelchairs, walkers, and braces. Kids who are missing an arm, a leg, or maybe an ear. All kinds of people, and that is what makes this world interesting.”
Stacey Gagnon’s Plea To Parents
Stacey pleads with parents to talk to their children about differences, especially before school starts.
“And if you don't,” she says, “I'll still be there to let my kids know that sometimes moms and dads forget to tell their kids different is beautiful. That kids who say mean things or point and stare, just haven't been taught a crucial lesson. They haven't been taught the lesson that different is normal...everyone is different.”
What a powerful and beautiful message we all need to hear. Be sure to share this story with others as a reminder to focus on what’s inside, not out!
“For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
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h/t: Love What Matters
Featured Image: Facebook/Stacey Gagnon