In the last week 10-year-old Daniel Boyers shot to online fame when his classmates let him win a school sports race.
This may seem out of the ordinary for 10-year-old boys — stereo-typically a competitive bunch — until you learn that young Daniel has cerebral palsy. His best friends knew he was nervous to run the race, aware that his physical disability would inevitably make him lose against his peers.
Rallying behind their friend, his classmates cheered Daniel over the finish line and declared him the winner.
The heart-warming gesture has won over millions of viewers online, as it shows the strength of camaraderie and kindness in children. Daniel has appeared on the BBC and the video has been played on national TV networks across the world.
Yet the question remains – Should we let disabled children win?
Although most have supported Daniel’s classmates in their mission to bolster their friend’s confidence, not everyone agrees that it’s the best way forward for improving life skills.
Disabled comedian Laurence Clark told the BBC:
“Undoubtedly, regardless of ability, every young child should have the experience of being a winner, whether it’s a round of mini-golf or a school sports day. In fact, as I sit here writing this blog I await the delivery of the game Twister which no doubt my kids will thrash me at later on this evening. I guess this is one of the perks of having a dad with cerebral palsy.
But in my hard-won experience, as disabled children grow up, there will come a point where letting them think they’ve won might do them more harm than good.”
Similarly, Otis Galloway believes that failing is one of the most important life lessons any child – or adult – can face. He told Enable:
“Losing is what teaches you how to win. You won’t improve at anything unless you fail doing it.There’s no shame in failing.”
Caroline Lyons told Enable :
“I think a more valuable life lesson [than allowing disabled children to lose] is the other lovely caring children who were mature and responsible enough to give the boy a chance to win where he usually wouldn’t be able to!”
Over on Twitter, many believe that small acts of kindness can have a huge impact, but that it’s all about making things more accessible and equal for kids rather than letting them win.
— NZ Human Rights (@NZHumanRights) June 24, 2016
There’s a difference between ‘letting them win’ and levelling the playing field. We need the latter. https://t.co/vcv71acAzh
— Natasha Lipman (@natashalipman) July 5, 2016
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