Supporting the Limitless Potential of People With Down Syndrome
This week, many across the United States and throughout the world celebrate those who have a little something extra. March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day, representing the third copy of the 21st chromosome of those with Down syndrome.
This is the eighth year our family knows the significance of this day. Our 7-year-old daughter is an energetic, hard-working little girl who loves playing outside, doing puzzles and helping with laundry – and she also happens to have Down syndrome. This year though, after our experiences in securing the inclusive educational opportunities she and every child deserves, we knew we needed to do something.
In honor of World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, we’re going to do more: more for our Lila, more for other children who learn differently, and eventually more for other children who need added resources or support to reach their full potential.
We’re launching an effort that was born in our hearts the moment we chose to believe our little girl was more than the myths and misperceptions associated with her diagnosis. Early on, we decided our Lila was limitless – as long as we loved, supported and challenged her.
She’s certainly risen to the challenges she’s faced, but we’ve found that others around us are often less likely to see past her diagnosis. The systems and services intended to help her actually limit her.
Services and acceptance for those with disabilities have come so far, even in my lifetime. But our journey has proven there is still a great distance to go before all children have access to quality resources and education, let alone the simple belief that they can have and accomplish big dreams.
Stories of coffee shops and other ventures that employ those with intellectual disabilities are making the news these days. Most of those opportunities and success stories are created by parents, but many families aren’t in a financial position to make them happen.
Our hope is that when Lila completes school, those stories are no longer news but commonplace, expected and typical in all communities.
This year, for World Down Syndrome Day, we’re launching Limitless Purpose – a movement that, for now, calls attention to the fact there is still much more work to be done to ensure acceptance and inclusion for every child. Our experiences in securing the education Lila is entitled to by federal law clearly demonstrate that changes are still needed.
The inspiration for this project is our own Limitless Lila – a strong, smart, capable little girl who can accomplish big things and dream big dreams.
Our own dream as her parents? That she has the opportunity to be included, to learn and grow, and to become all she is capable of, giving back to her community and the world by sharing her own story to help others who may
need a little more help or more time themselves.
We believe – and have seen through Lila – that all children are limitless. And we know that’s a message and a purpose worth sharing.