Last Sunday at church, I was talking to a sweet girl who I would guess is no older than ten. She was enthralled with Hannah, holding her hand and talking to her. The girl quickly noticed that Hannah had oxygen and wanted to know why. I told her she has a heart problem and she also has Down Syndrome. Her response was, “Oh no, she’s going to be made fun of when she grows up!”
She said it with such sincerity; she was positive she would be made fun of, and she didn’t like it. I told her that I hope she won’t be made fun of, and that I try to talk to kids like her about Down Syndrome to help them realize Hannah is just like them, so they won’t make fun of her. The girl said goodbye to Hannah, and we both went our separate ways, but I’ve thought about what she said every day since then.
If a ten year old girl can say with such certainty that Hannah will be made fun of for having Down Syndrome, we can’t deny there is something very wrong with our culture.
It breaks my heart to know that a lot of people would make fun of Hannah, even at one year old, but it motivates me even more.
It motivates me to continue writing this blog.
It motivates me to continue sharing her pictures on social media.
It motivates me to continue entering her to be brand reps for companies.
It motivates me to talk to as many people as possible, especially children, about Hannah and Down Syndrome in general.
My hope is that by sharing her with the world, the world will learn to accept and even celebrate people with Down Syndrome, and other differences. My hope is that they will see all that people with Down Syndrome have to offer.
It’s not just up to family members of people with Down Syndrome to do this though, it’s up to everyone. Talk to your children about people with special needs. Explain to them that they are people just like them, and have just as much to offer. Nurture the inclusive spirit kids naturally have. Teaching your children at a young age to celebrate Down Syndrome and other differences, is one of the best ways to help Hannah not be made fun of when she grows up. My hope is that if every parent would do this, in 20 years, we will be a much more inclusive, accepting society than we are today.