March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day. It's a day for creating awareness about Down syndrome, for celebrating individuals with Down syndrome, and for advocating on behalf of the people in our lives and in our communities with Down syndrome.
My only sister has Down syndrome and therefore, people with Down syndrome have always held a special place in my heart. When I went off to college, I began volunteering at a developmental center for children with special needs because I missed my sister and longed for that connection to the special needs community. In every city I've moved to, I've sought out volunteer opportunities so I could spend time around people with special needs. These interactions broadened my horizons and affirmed the things in this world that are genuine and truly worthwhile.
The culmination of these experiences led my wonderful husband and I to start our family by adopting a baby with Down syndrome. Now, I have been re-introduced to the special needs community from a whole new perspective and it's exciting, overwhelming, frustrating, inspiring, fulfilling, rewarding, and so important.
It's important that society recognizes that individuals with Down syndrome can lead abundant, meaningful lives and are fully deserving of inclusion and rights. I want my daughter to grow up with every opportunity to maximize her potential and achieve her dreams. If we can teach the world to value her contribution to society, her life will be enriched as will the lives of everyone she comes into contact with.
Guess who taught me that: my big sister!
The most important lessons in my life and the values that I hold with the strongest conviction, came from growing up with a sister with Down syndrome. So please join me in celebrating World Down Syndrome Day and let's spread the message so the rest of the world can become enlightened to the vital role individuals with Down syndrome play in our lives and in our communities.