Thursday, October 23, 2014


The concept of awareness and raising awareness for Down syndrome has naturally been on my mind the last few weeks.  I almost didn't raise to the blogging challenge this year as our experiences have been so fantastic that I almost feel that we don't need to raise awareness about Down syndrome.  And then at the beginning of the month a few people posted about not calling it Down syndrome awareness month, but rather Down syndrome acceptance month.  The idea being that everybody if perfectly aware of Reagan (or ...insert peer here..), but what we really need to work on is acceptance of Reagan (or peer) as she is.  There is validity to this statement and of course as her mother I hope that she is accepted wherever she goes...and right now she pretty much is (of course...she's adorable and charming and, well you all asked me to do this again this year so you know).  As I pondered this though I realized that awareness doesn't merely mean that you are aware of Reagan, or that she has Down syndrome, but rather of what that really means.  Because truly and very tragically there is still a lot of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge of the basics of Down syndrome.  And without understanding (whether you like/agree with it or not) there is not likely to be the cherished acceptance.  And that is particularly true among our children.  Because they can be caught before negative ideas catch hold and pointed in the right direction with facts and compassion.  So it was with much excitement that I spoke (for the first time ever!)  to the big girls school about Down syndrome today.  It thrills me to no end to think of the 103 (yes I counted) children who have already experienced Reagan on the edges of their lives learn that she has Down syndrome and what that means and to actually clamor for a Down syndrome awareness ribbon to take home because, as they shouted to me in the presentation, Reagan is a person just like them.
 Created by God just as she is.  And to be loved an cherished no matter her differences because she is Created in His image just like them.  I have to brag on this school and these kids for a moment here.  They blew me away with their participation in the explanation (fyi pairs of socks are a great illustration for chromosomes)  and their insistence that value isn't based on chromosomes or differences.  Cookies are a great illustration of differences being a good thing, but the fact that they wanted the ribbons more than the cookies warmed my heart to no end.
 That is 103 future adults who will not be frightened by the idea of a child with Down syndrome.  103 people who won't feel awkward when they meet someone with Down syndrome...or for that matter for some other difference.  Because these kids really got it that we are all creations who are more alike than different and that our differences make us who we are.  I loved that the principle used Down syndrome as a jumping off place to teach these kiddos that when they meet someone who looks or acts differently than them to remember that they are also created by God and to be treated as such.
 So there you go.  Awareness really is go...spread it.  And if you need to know more stuff....well ask! :)  And (I know I'm probably talking to the wrong crowd here) if someone tries to tell you about something important to them....please listen...if it is important to them, then it should be important to you.

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