Going Beyond Awareness

I wouldn’t change you for the world, but I would change the world for you. Unknown parent of a child with Down syndrome 

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Approximately one in every 700 babies in the United States is born with three copies of chromosome 21, instead of the usual two. Although children born with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia and thyroid conditions, many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives. In fact, the life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades from twenty five years in 1983 to sixty years today. People with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, have meaningful relationships, vote, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways. 

All these facts help us become AWARE of Down syndrome. The broader goal, however, is ACCEPTANCE. How accepting are we of persons with differing abilities? As we champion quality educational programs, good health care, and give positive support to family members, people with Down syndrome have a greater opportunity to live healthy, fulfilling lives.  

Affirmation: I accept and champion persons with Down syndrome

Coaching question: When given the opportunity, what will you do to show awareness and acceptance of someone with Down syndrome? 

 

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Why The Special Olympics Are Special

We see a world where there is no ‘us’ or ‘them.’ Instead, people of all abilities are treated with dignity and respect and all are welcomed with acceptance and understanding. Special Olympics website

Years ago I had a friend with a son who had mental disabilities. He was a teenager when I met him and had recently participated in the Special Olympics. He proudly showed me his medals and told me how he was already starting to train for next year. From that moment, twenty-eight years ago, I’ve been a supporter of  Special Olympics, seeing first hand the difference they made in a young man’s life.

This week the Special Olympics World Games are taking place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Thursday is World Down Syndrome Day. Seven thousand athletes from 170 countries and 24 sports are participating with the help of over 20,000 volunteers. Their ultimate goal is to embrace unity, achievement, and dignity. 

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Photo by Adrià Crehuet Cano on Unsplash