Living Truth with Charlie Mitchell: Down’s Syndrome Day Special
10 things you didn’t know about Down’s syndrome that will make you smile
We didn’t know when Thomas was born that he had Down’s syndrome and it was a shock. The shock was mainly about fear of not knowing what that meant or how I could support him effectively. One of my sisters sent me a copy of the ‘Welcome to Holland’ poem by Emily Perl Kingsley¹. It talks about a planned trip to Italy and the uncertainty of finding out that actually you have arrived in Holland. I found it quite helpful, perhaps in part because I actually really like Holland!
Yet as I found out more about people who have Down’s syndrome and their experiences of life, I realised that not only did it not have to be so bad, it was actually something to celebrate. So here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about Down’s Syndrome that will make you smile:
1. In a study of 3000 families with a child with Down’s Syndrome, “the vast majority of parents said they have a more positive outlook on life because of their child with Down’s syndrome. And, nearly 90 percent of siblings indicated that they feel like they are better people because of their brother or sister with the developmental disability”²
2. It was named after a man whose surname was Down – in our house we have decided his surname should have been ‘sunshine’ as it seems more fitting!
3. People with Down’s syndrome are creating more and more opportunities for themselves in the world. Madeline Stuart is the first professional model with Down’s syndrome, invited to New York Fashion Week, featured in Vogue and generally taking the world by storm: “Madeline has been raised every day being told she’s beautiful and capable. She wouldn’t know what it’s like not to believe in herself.”³
4. And Madeline is not the only one! Finland has a mixed-race model Maija Mattila who is following hot in Madeline’s footsteps. “My biggest campaign so far has been for Kalevala Koru,” says Maija, name-checking a well-known Helsinki jeweller. “I loved doing the catwalk at African Fashion Festival Helsinki,” she adds. She would love her journey to inspire others: “I want to be an example to others and encourage everybody to pursue their dreams and be proud of their skin colour.” 4
5. Then there is the million-dollar sock entrepreneur who has Down’s syndrome. John Cronin has really mastered the personal touch with his approach to business. “Each order is shipped the same day with a pack of sweets and a hand-written ‘thank you’ note, and John will deliver them himself if you live nearby.”5
How cool is that?! Perhaps other businesses could learn a thing or two about how to excel at customer service from John!
6. The cutest little boy has become the face of Gerber in the USA. The competition had more than 140,000 entries and they were looking for the perfect fit. They found Lucas Warren: the first little boy with Down’s syndrome to win the competition. And when you see his smile you will instantly know why!6
7. Mikayla Holmgren, 22, with Down’s syndrome recently made history as the first woman with Down’s syndrome to compete in Minnesota’s Miss USA pageant. She is stunning and it’s brilliant to see her beautiful face lighting up the show.7
8. Sarah Gordy has made a name for herself as a dancer and actor, appearing in Call the Midwife, Casualty and Peak Practice. She says: “I’m a professional actor, dancer and model. I have Down’s Syndrome but that is not all I am.”8
9. Although Chelsea Werner competed in the Special Olympics National Gymnastics Championships and won four years in a row, she has not let that stop her developing her modelling career. She has walked in New York Fashion Week runway shows and starred in an H&M campaign.9
10. If you have managed to read this without a smile on your face then just watch this video put together by 50 mums and 50 kids that has gone viral this week – it is just beautiful! Set to the music of A Thousand Years by Christina Perry and can make you laugh and cry all at the same time!
So let’s celebrate the diversity, joy and general fabulousness that people with Down’s syndrome bring to our lives this World Down Syndrome Day on Wednesday 21st March 2018. You can find out more about the day by visiting: https://worlddownsyndromeday.org/
 Visit: https://www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk/talk-to-others/2015-04-09/welcome-to-holland-poemcoping-with-diagnosis
 Visit: https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2011/09/22/down-syndrome-families-happy/14087/
 Visit: https://www.vogue.com.au/fashion/news/meet-australian-madeline-stuart-the-worlds-first-professional-model-with-down-syndrome/news-story/c90e9224d9586e7840362a9ea0a4bf8a
 Visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-43287615
 Visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42353259
 Visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-42987830
 Visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-us-canada-42146724/woman-with-down-s-syndrome-makes-history-at-us-beauty-pageant
 Visit: https://sarahgordy.com/
 Visit: https://www.refinery29.uk/2018/02/192030/chelsea-werner-special-olympics-gymnastics-interview
Due to the birth of her third child and untimely death of her partner, she has taken time out to grieve, heal and learn new ways of living. She is currently writing a book about surviving crisis and living bravely. She has a private Facebook group where she shares she skills and experience to help others use challenges as a catalyst for positive growth. She does live videos and webinars as part of the process.
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