Erin McKenzie and her family were pioneers, fighting to include her fully at home, at school, and in the community. Erin, who had Down syndrome, died shortly after graduating from high school, but her life will resonate forever with a profound lesson in self-determination.
According to Erin's mother, Barb McKenzie, "Erin was always fully included in all general education classes and extra curricula activities and never in a special ed class." Her high school experiences included participation in theater and she held a special fondness for Shakespeare.
During her final year of high school, Erin wrote, "...I'm a cool senior at Westerville South High School. Go Wild Cats! I have my class ring, my letter jacket for Drama Club, and my senior pictures to give to my friends. I go to dances and parties and hang out with my friends at school."
Erin and her family shared their stories and experiences at conferences and other gatherings. In a message after their daughter's death, Erin's family wrote the following:
"Seeing Erin's spirit in each of the students, parents, teachers, administrators, staff, and community members that we have heard from has uplifted us. It has given us hope that this vision will continue for us all.
You can read more about the remarkable story of Erin McKenzie, a young woman who did MUCH MORE during her short life than some "experts" thought possible. See a tribute to Erin hosted by the Courtright Memorial Library at Otterbein College. Or, see Erin present a speech at her high school graduation ceremonies. Click here.
This story does not constitute medical, legal or any other type of professional advice. The Beach Center on Disability website and its stories are provided as a public service. Although the staff at the Beach Center works hard to provide quality information and content on the website, the Beach Center cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, or suitability of the information in any particular document, on any particular web page, or for any particular purpose. If you believe any information provided in this story is unclear or inaccurate, please inform us by sending comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
. In no event shall the Beach Center be liable for any special, indirect, or consequential damages resulting from the use of information provided in this story.