Should I work with the mentally disabled? Will they attack me? What happens if I am the only person there? Will I be alone? These were my exact thoughts when Mr. Silva assigned us our service learning project. I had heard from almost all my friends that the mentally disabled people were disgusting, dumb and ugly. Hearing them, I got scared. Although I was scared I decided to take a challenge to see how it really was helping and interacting with this group. By interacting with this group, I learned that many of the stereotypes that were made about them were untrue. I learned to look at these people as humans, with unfortunate disabilities. As I volunteered in the Special Olympics, I gradually learned more and more, and became more comfortable with this group. Overall, through my research, common sense, and volunteering, I learned a lot about this group.
When I started this project, I was not so sure about getting involved with mentally disabled people. This idea somewhat scared me. I also knew that when I saw a mentally disabled child, I had an inclination to go away. My thoughts were a perfect example of the prejudice, stereotypes, and problems that mentally disabled individuals face today. Before beginning my research, and from what I had already observed, I noticed that generally people think badly of or down upon mentally disabled people. They believe that mentally disabled people are dumb, illiterate, annoying, and ugly. People even think that the mentally disabled do not have a right to exist in this world. These different stereotypes, or generalizations against certain peoples, lead to many average individuals being prejudiced against the mentally disabled. Prejudices and stereotypes are primary reasons for mentally disabled not being accepted as part of the mainstream. They are considered "unclean" in a way that people make it obvious that they do not want to be associated with these "different" individuals.