Monday, October 20, 2008

Odd news? Very inappropriate description of a story about a teen with Down syndrome

The UPI has a category of news on its Web site called "Odd News" and it listed a story about a teen with Down syndrome winning as Homecoming queen under this category. I find this an inappropriate description of a story that is definitely newsworthy and seems to be a trend around the USA, with about a half dozen teens with Down syndrome being named a Homecoming King or Queen this fall. I hope the UPI will drop its use of "Odd News" because no one wants their story to be in that section.

Here's the story that was listed under the headline "Girl with Down syndrome rules." (I will also point out that given that she is over the age of 12, Anne Jennings should not be called a "girl.")

LIBERTYVILE, Ill., Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Anne Jennings, who has Down Syndrome, says she's still glowing after being named homecoming queen at Libertyville High School in Illinois.

Jennings, 17, was chosen Oct. 3 from among 17 girls at her high school and since has been named "Person of the Week" on ABC's World News, the Chicago Tribune reported.

"Before, I was just plain me," said Jennings. "When I was queen, it changed. It's amazing. Everyone loves me. I love me."

Her mother, Ellen Jennings, recorded the moment on a video that shows students cheering wildly when the crown is placed on her daughter's head.

"Amazing. Unbelievable. You teach kids to do the right thing and treat people all like individuals, and look what happens," said Ellen Jennings, crediting her daughter's popularity and ability to make friends to the years she spent in regular education classrooms.

Jennings says she no longer struggles with questions about why she was born different from others.

"Now I know why," she said. "This was going to happen."