ABBEVILLE, La. (KLFY) – The president and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy based in Virginia sent an open letter to Tay’Shawn Landry after seeing the viral senior prank video of students at Abbeville High making fun of people with disabilities and riding in the wheelchair the school loan to him to get around on campus.
It was these impacting words from Tay’Shawn Landry, a 9th grader at the high school that touched the hearts of many in Acadiana and other states.
“I was upset. I was mad. I was crying,” he said.
“So we have a new board member, Bradley Boyer, who is an attorney in Los Angeles, and he brought it to my attention. He sent me the video, so I was appalled, and given that we are advocates, not only do we provide direct services to people with cerebral palsy, down syndrome, autism, developmental delay, and other conditions. We’re also advocates in the disability community,” said Armando Contreras, the President and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy.
“The first thing I thought was, let’s write a letter to Tay’Shawn and just express to him that we’re very sorry for the incident and that we wanted him to know that he’s not alone in this situation and that if there’s anything that we can do then we’re here and available to do so.”
He mentioned how bullying is a challenge and a concerning issue for people with disability.
“I think students and the community at large need to know that there has to be an element of respect, an element of unity. An element that no matter what kind of disability you have, they have this equals among the students. Among people in society. So they are a fabric of society. They do contribute. So there shouldn’t be anything that has to do with bullying or making fun of somebody that perhaps has different abilities,” he said.
When the video appeared on social media, school officials told News 10 any disciplinary action is confidential. However, Contreras made a suggestion.
“My thoughts about Tay’Shawn and the kids that were bullying him. I honestly believe that perhaps part of the disciplinary actions that they should have is that they will commit to some time voluntarily at a nonprofit that provides direct services to people with disabilities,” he said.
“I think that would open up their hearts. I think that would help them to engage in a little bit more of the beauty and the blessings that people with disabilities bring to life.”
He continues, “I think that to be one of the things and, in fact, maybe include their parents—the parents, like the whole family of those that did this horrendous act. They should get involved and get to know the community a little bit better, and I’m sure again that would change their mindset and that they would eventually become an advocate; they will stand up to bullies.”
State Troopers add they were moved by Landry’s story. “If this job has taught me anything, it has shown me that there is always someone who, if faced with adversity, can be an example of how to rise above it.”