By Wren Hagge
CHICAGO (CBS) — A Palatine mother penned an emotional open letter on Facebook after she says children at a public pool in Algonquin avoided playing with her son, who has Down syndrome.
In the letter, which has gone viral, Kristen Rumphol described watching 11-year-old Brandon try to engage with his peers at the pool. “He would go up to other kids and say ‘hi boy or hi girl.’ He is still categorized as nonverbal.”
“Every single time the kids would either look at him weird and say nothing or just swim away,” Rumphol writes in the letter. “Brandon would look back at me with a look of disappointment. Not understanding why the kids were being mean to him.”
Rumphol tells CBS 2 that her goal in posting the letter was to urge parents to educate their kids about Down syndrome. “Children with special needs just want to be accepted, included, and treated like every other ‘normal’ child.”
Since Rumphol posted the letter, the post has been shared over 11,000 times and Brandon has received “an amazing outpouring of love,” including thousands of supportive messages and care packages from across the country.
The Rumphol family has also been back to the pool three times and already sees a difference. “Kids have started coming up to Brandon and greeting him by name, so parents must be talking to their kids about it.”
Rumphol now watches with a happy heart as other kids invite Brandon to play.