Kinsey French is a bride like many others—beautiful, young, and preparing to be married before all of her friends and family.
French is a teacher at Christian Acadamy’s Providence School in Louisville, Kentucky. For the past three years, she’s taught in special education, and her students are mainly children with Down syndrome.
Down syndrome, aka trisomy 21, is a genetic condition caused by having a third copy of the 21st chromosome. It causes growth and developmental delays, and is commonly associated with characteristic facial features. It’s the most common chromosomal abnormality in humans, appearing in more than 1 in 1,000 live births.
Until very recently, children with Down syndrome weren’t expected to live past 25 or ever achieve an “adult” life, but advances in understanding of the condition and in treating its common health problems has changed much of that.
“There are a lot of stereotypes that come with Down syndrome,” said French. “Our students are like any other class and deserve a chance to learn alongside their peers like anyone else.” And like any other students, she has developed a special relationship with her whole class. So she invited them all, every one, to join in her bridal party.
With the permission of parents and school, French and her now-husband, Josh made a place for the 7-to 11-year-olds in her ceremony. The boys wore suits and the girls wore white dresses, and they all danced gleefully at her reception.
It is only recently that the medical community has begun to move away from treating Down syndrome patients as lifelong children. But they aren’t children; they reach adulthood just as the neurotypical do and with many of the same goals and urges. Events like this wedding are important, as children who participate in weddings learn to dream of their own.