Birthday parties should be a happy time for everyone, not just for the birthday boy or girl. Sadly, that was not the case for Sawyer, a young boy with Down syndrome from British Columbia, Canada, who was the only one in his class of 23 students not invited to a birthday party.
In response to the exclusion, Sawyer's mom, Jennifer Kiss-Engele, wrote an open letter to the child's parents on Facebook about the incident.
After Kiss-Engele shared her message on Facebook on June 23, it has gone viral. Kiss-Engele and Sawyer's story was covered by various local and international media outlets. Plus, many Facebook users posted their own comments showing their support and discussing how they have experienced similar situations.
One user wrote, "Well done, you have turned what could have been a bitter moment into [one that champions] education and learning about the problems and prejudices faced by those who are a bit different."
The response from strangers on social media wasn't the only thing that was positive. The story also has a happy ending for Sawyer.
Kiss-Engele shared an update on Facebook on Saturday that the parents of the child organizing the party had reached out to her and Sawyer has received a special invitation to the party. She wrote, "Of course he's been beaming ever since and can't stop talking about it."
It's wonderful that Sawyer ended up getting invited to the birthday party, but as Kiss-Engele pointed out in her letter, this isn't just about this specific party or Sawyer. It is about all of the children who are excluded from situations. Kiss-Engele was able to bring attention to the situation in a positive way and help educate others to ensure that no one is excluded from future events based on their abilities, or any other reason.