Seguin, TX – The mother of a Navarro High School senior, who has Down syndrome and was nominated for homecoming king, is hoping to raise awareness about the importance of inclusivity for people with the disability.
Quin Garcia, 17, said he is beyond excited for the big event scheduled for Oct. 16. He said he loves his fellow Panthers.
“I love football, Special Olympic basketball, bowling and track.”
He said his confidence comes from the love of his friends, classmates and teachers within the district.
“I know the minute he walks through those doors, if the teachers aren’t taking care of him, his classmates are,” said Ronni Lickert, his mother. “We have had speech and occupational therapy and physical therapy. Everyone who has gotten us here has been great to him. The school included, the teachers, the aids, the custodians; even the lunch lady loves him and treats him well.”
She said his diagnosis came as a surprise to their family.
“He was born, and he was life-flighted three hours away from us and put in the NICU for about a month,” Lickert said. “So now, you have a baby with Down syndrome, so you start to Google and research into and, you know, I couldn’t bring myself to the page where it showed the life expectancy. I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t ready but you know what. Quin turned out to be very healthy and has been doing just fine.”
She said while he was in pre-k, she didn’t like the way his previous district handled children with special needs.
“They just believed in putting Quin in a class with only special needs children and the only contact they were able to make with regular kids was during recess,” Lickert said. “So, I found this school district that met my standards and now Quin has been in classes with regular students, learning like he was your typical kid.”
She said it was all about making sure he was in an inclusive environment.
“One of my biggest concerns with Quin was not if he can do an algebra problem or a scientific problem,” Lickert said. “It was that he can fit in with society and act like every other person and that Is where they learn it from. From inclusion in the classroom. They learn how to act in social situations. They learn how to act and what to do and what not to do.”
Quin, who has good grades, plays sports, and has a major group of supporters, was elated when he found out he had been nominated. He has already secured a date.
“He asked a girl to be his homecoming date without me knowing,” Lickert laughed. “He just came home and was like, ‘Mom! I asked Madison to homecoming!’ I was like, ‘Oh really!’ And sure enough, I get this picture of him posing with her and a note he wrote out to her.”
“She plays volleyball and very nice and very pretty,” Garcia said. “She has always been there for me. She’s very pretty.”
Garcia said after graduation, he plans to go to Texas State University.
“I want to be a teacher to help kids with their homework and schoolwork and teach them how to be healthy and stronger,” Garcia said.
With it being Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Lickert had this piece of advice to tell others in the community.
“Don’t treat them at all like they have a disability,” Lickert said. “He can unload the dishwasher. He can vacuum. He can do whatever you expect him to do. I just want everyone to a not use the ‘R-word’ ever in their lives and to treat everyone with special needs with just as much respect as you would anyone else.”