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More than 3,000 members of the Little People of America (LPA) and their families enjoyed a whirlwind tour of the city last week as Brooklyn hosted the organization’s 52nd national conference.
The week−long conference, held at the Brooklyn Marriott (333 Adams St.), also coincided with the Dwarf Athletic Association of America (DAAA) annual games with the basketball tournament held in the Polytechnic University Gym.
“This is my first time at the conference and I love it,” said LPA member Justin Tompkins, 16.
Tompkins said his mother told him about the conference, and he is proud that it was held in Brooklyn.
“Now that I’m here, I’m definitely going to the one next year in Nashville,” he said. “If we don’t stick together it will be worse when kids make fun of us. When we’re a community, we do good.”
Tompkins’ reaction was typical of first−timers to the convention, according to Adam Brown of Texas, a DAAA board member.
“For some little people here for the first time it’s very overwhelming, as they are used to the average−sized world, but then they come to our world where it’s eye to eye. It’s a great feeling,” said Brown.
LPA members range from newborns to senior citizens, little people, average height people, and all religions, ethnicities, and economic levels.
The convention featured medical experts in the field of dwarfism. The event, held from July 4 − 10, also offered a chance for members to socialize and perhaps find romance through dances, workshops and athletic and artistic events.
This year’s convention also caused a political stir as the LPA introduced its campaign to ban the word “midget.” In particular, the LPA is lobbying the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to excise the M−word from all mainstream entertainment programing.
In introducing the campaign, the LPA quoted Billy Barty, the widely−known actor who founded the organization in 1957.
“Most of us with dwarfism prefer to be described as ‘little people,’” said Barty. “We did not spring from the pages of a storybook or emerge from an enchanted forest. We are parents and sons and daughters. We are doctors and lawyers and realtors and teachers. We dream, cry, laugh, shout, fall in love and make mistakes. We are no different from you.”
Borough President Marty Markowitz also attended the festivities to welcome the conventioneers. He noted that he is of short stature at five−foot−five.
“I always say Brooklyn is a proud home to everyone from everywhere, and Brooklynites come in all colors, creeds — and sizes,” said Markowitz.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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