Today is World Down Syndrome Day, and I want to take a moment to say how blessed I am to have such a loving, compassionate, wonderful sister. She has grown up to be a strong, independent and enthusiastic young woman. She has achieved so much (in Gymnastics and at school) and has a rewarding job where she is valued as a hardworking employee. She cares for people and has a kind, generous soul. She is intelligent and has an incredible imagination. She loves to design and write stories. She is creative and adventurous. I could write an essay length post on how proud I am of her.
Life with Down Syndrome is not easy. There is a lot of stigma surrounding this disability, particularly the idea that people with Down Syndrome aren’t capable of looking after themselves and living independent lives. My sister is highly aware of the way that people see her – she can tell when a person looks at her and sees only her disability. She works hard at her job, but the government are unwilling to provide funding for her to work more than two days a week. She feels loneliness and sadness acutely. My parents have worked hard to provide her with education and training so that she can have a normal life.
It was hard growing up, seeing the way kids would bully her and say things like “why does she look funny?” (to which I would usually respond, “why do YOU look funny?” That gained me a lot of popularity in the playground. :P) It was hard to have adults place on me the expectation and responsibility that I would look after her – not realising that a seven year old shouldn’t be expected to care for their ten year old sister! I always worried who would take care of her if anything ever happened to our parents. My friends assumed that we had a different relationship than normal siblings – not realising that we would fight over silly things and seek favouritism in our parents and not want to do things together just like normal brothers and sisters do. As she became a teenager and then a young woman, I felt guilty that I was going to parties that she wasn’t invited to, and felt the weight of injustice that people – even those who had known her for years – didn’t count her as a person.
Yet, despite all this, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love my sister for who she is, and am so thankful for the blessing it has been to grow up with her. She is my favourite person in the world. She has taught me what it means to love; to not discriminate or show prejudice toward others. She has cared for me during my chronic illness and shown patience and kindness in the face of my pain. I could not have asked for a better sister and praise God everyday for creating her.
For more information on World Down Syndrome Day, check out the official website:
There is a lot of stigma attached to Down Syndrome (such as their lack of quality of life that many see as a reason to promote abortion), and I think these two articles do a good job of expressing the value and quality of life of people with Down Syndrome without discounting the hard aspects facing families with a disabled child:
For more information on Down Syndrome, check out these links:
All images captured with a Canon EOS 600D.