October is International Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
As parents of children with Down syndrome, our responsibility to raise our children to be positive, contributing members of society the same as anyone else’s.
Every day when we read or watch the news and we are concerned about how our children are growing up. The permeating influences of crime, greed, disregard for authority and ignorance affect each one of us. While we can worry and demand our nation’s leaders to help change the trend, we ALL can do something to improve the situation. We can start by improving our home life.
A wise man once said “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” We need to strengthen our relationships with our children. We need to listen to them and talk with them. We need to teach them values and morals. We need to encourage them to work hard and stand up for what is right. We need to show them how to respect their fellowmen. We need to teach them to not be afraid of failing and picking themselves up again and succeeding.
We need to tell them it is OK to be different. And we need to let them spread their own wings to chase dreams. We need to educate our society so that they in turn can create an environment where all persons will feel comfortable and accepted.
Parents have so much power over the development of their children. We are the enablers. By setting lofty goals for our children we inspire them to achieve. If we limit their possibilities we keep them from achieving their own personal best.
We see time and time again examples of people with intellectual disabilities who have broken the glass ceiling and achieved what seemed like the impossible. We have persons like Chris Burke who played Corky in “Life Goes On” and currently works at the office of the National Down Syndrome Society. He was a favorite on television when inclusion was still a whole new idea. Look at Lauren Potter whose character on “Glee” can stand up to the crazy, formidable Sue Sylvester. Look at Karen Gaffney who in 2013 became the first living person with Down syndrome to receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree … oh yeah, and she also swam the English Channel. Look at Jimmy Jenson became the first person with Down syndrome to run the entire New York City Marathon. This list goes on but are all foreign examples.
Our children in Trinidad & Tobago also have this potential, but need the learning and enabling environment to be able to achieve. Trinidad & Tobago needs to play catch up with other developed nations to offer inclusion education programmes in schools along with specialized medical support and a range of therapy for students with intellectual disabilities.
OUR CHILDREN MUST BE ABLE TO GRADUATE FROM SCHOOL, HAVE A JOB, EARN A LIVING, HAVE A SOCIAL LIFE, GET MARRIED, OWN PROPERTY AND HAVE LEGAL RIGHTS.
As a society we must advocate for equality for all, during Down Syndrome Awareness Month challenge yourself to learn something more about this genetic condition: attend an event, chat with a person with Down syndrome, talk with a parent, visit the DSFN Facebook page, or just go online and see how much is being done globally.
Please join us to show your support of improving our nation through our children at the Down Syndrome Family Network Buddy Walk on October 19th at Nelson Mandela Park.
Together we can lift our nation by lifting our children.
Down Syndrome Family Network