She Was Being Bullied. Her Nation's Leader Walked Her to School

North Macedonia President Stevo Pendarovski steps up for little girl with Down syndrome
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2022 9:00 AM CST

Embla Ademi hasn't had an easy time of it. The 11-year-old has been the brunt of bullying at her elementary school in Gondivar, North Macedonia, due to the fact that she has Down syndrome, a genetic condition that can cause learning disabilities and health issues, and that's accompanied by particular facial features, a spokesperson for the nation's president, Stevo Pendarovski, tells CNN. That's why on Monday, Pendarovski decided Embla would have a friend back her up and walk her to school—himself, holding her hand.

Before their stroll to school, shown here, a gift-bearing Pendarovski sat down with Embla and her family, chatting about "the challenges she and her family face on a daily basis," per a release out of his office, which includes pictures of their time together. Pendarovski told the Ademis that it was "unacceptable" for anyone to endanger the rights of children, "especially when it comes to children with atypical development," and that kids like Embla should not only not have their rights infringed upon, but also should feel welcome and included at school.

"The key element in this common mission is empathy," the release notes. The president himself added: "We are all equal in this society. I came to give my support and to raise awareness that inclusion is a basic principle." The release adds that Pendarovski has given a thumbs-up to a newly opened investigation into Embla's case by the Commission for Protection Against Discrimination, per Euronews. (More uplifting news stories.)

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