Two Oklahoma teens are being praised after a photo of their graduation ceremony with a Down syndrome friend went viral.
Pryce Jackson and Kyran English from Muskogee, Oklahoma, public schools looked out for Madison Moore, who has Down syndrome.
Dena Fabian-Moore said, “Pryce and Kyran, in particular, have always gone out of their way to check on Madison,” Fabian-Moore said. They “have kind of been her protectors … to check on her, to say, ‘Hey, how are you?'”
Their friendship started in kindergarten when Madison was first integrated into regular classrooms. Her mom pushed her into it because she wanted “the best education” possible.
Jackson and English always made it a priority to eat lunch or walk with her and stood by her side and held hands with her during field trips, so that she wouldn’t feel alone.
“She would usually ask me or Pryce, or oftentimes both of us, to kind of walk with her, sit with her,” English said. “And it was never a burden to us at all.”
English values Madison as a friend, recalling a moment in third grade when she consoled him after a bad grade left him in tears. “They don’t look at her as a kid with Down syndrome,” Fabian-Moore said. “They just look at her as [a] friend.”
They in fact see her as extended family. “It was kind of like the big brother role, you know, just picking it up and keeping on with it, making sure she was good over the years, being that person our parents raised us to be,” Jackson said.
To thank Madison’s friends, her dad posted a photo on Twitter of the three of them side by side at their high school graduation. The caption read: “These 2 fine young men have watched out and have been friends with my daughter since kindergarten.”
The image went viral in no time, and it wasn’t just Jackson and English, it was “just every kid at the school,” Fabian-Moore said. She was shocked when the photo on Twitter grabbed so much attention.
“It was just like second nature,” the mother said of her daughter’s protective pals. “They’re just kids. It’s all it is. They’re kids that love each other.” The post has been retweeted over 47,000 times.
Last one. Parents, please be an advocate your child. When a school says No, we can’t do that. You tell them YES YOU CAN! pic.twitter.com/kYvZZ1LaNM
— Kevin Moore (@t__bird1) May 22, 2021
“I think if we had a world full of people like Madison, I think we’d [have] a lot better place,” English said. “She’s managed to overcome a lot. And if I were to use one word to describe her it would be ‘inspirational.’”
Fabian-Moore said their decision to integrate Madison into public schools at a young age has proven to be wise. “How do you know how to interact with people that are different from you if you’re not with them? I mean, you have to,” she said.
Madison’s success is now motivating others in the community, Fabian-More said the school district wants to place special needs students in regular classrooms.