World Down Syndrome Day at Children’s Hospital Colorado

                                   

Please watch an interview with Director of Education of Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome Patti McVay
Aurora 8 – World Down Syndrome Day with Patti McVay

 

 FIRST Annual Crnic Institute World Down Syndrome Day Essay Contest for Middle School and High School Students WINNERS!

WINNERS: Kia and Brittany, Collaborative Middle School 

– 2 Friends – One with Down syndrome & one without
LCI Director of Education Patti McVay
 & LCI Jenny Weaver stand with essay
winners Kia and Brittany
We Are Special

When a child has Down Syndrome, simple tasks and conversations can become very hard, but understanding we are both equal has made it so that our friendship is so special.

My name is Brittany and I am an eighth grader at Campus Middle School. During this school year, I have been spending my elective period in the special needs classroom as a student assistant.
This is where I met Kia, a 6th grader with Down Syndrome. When my principal suggested that Kia and I enter this contest, I was surprised. I never had really thought about how our friendship was different because of Down Syndrome.  Kia and I have been eating lunch together two days a week for over a month, discussing our friendship. During this time we have discovered that one’s friends are not chosen because they are the prettiest, the smartest or the most popular. one choses their friends because of how that person makes one feel. Kia makes me feel special and I make her feel wanted. Kia is a very genuine person, she smiles when she’s happy and lets you know that you have brightened her day just by being there. I do not have to impress Kia. I just have to be me. Every time I see Kia, she smiles and tells me how special I am to her. There is no drama with Kia, she tells you straight up how it is going to be and that is that.
As our conversations during lunch have progressed, we have discovered that we have common interests. We both think boys have cooties and they are not worth our time yet. Though we do enjoy dreaming of our wedding day and all the fine details. One day at lunch, Kia said that even though we have less time together, unlike most friends, we make our time together special.
When Kia and I are together we do not worry about the trivial aspects of being teenagers. Such as the latest school gossip, what drama happened in class that day or who is going out on a date. Kia and I enjoy the calmness of our relationship. It is simple, really, we just enjoy each other for who we are and what we each give to the friendship. We give each other a purpose and a meaning to our everyday school routine.
So, the question remains, how does Down Syndrome make our friendship better? Kia and I are friends not because of Down Syndrome, but because we have learned to look beyond daily challenges and discover who the person is beneath the skin. Down Syndrome may have been the beginning to our relationship but we choose to be friends because of who we are without the drama of being a teenager. Down Syndrome not only changed our relationship but taught us a valuable life lesson in acceptance.

WINNER: Kayla, Individual Student without Down syndrome
Essay Winner Kayla shares a moment with Danny

Misunderstood Abilities

On November 23’d of 1999 a beautiful baby brother named Danny came into my life. I was ecstatic to see him wiggle his tiny toes and open his big blue eyes for the first time. Three days later, however, I was told something was wrong with my beautiful baby brother. “Down Syndrome,” they called it, “Special needs.” Immediately I thought: wow, Danny is special! He’s even more perfect then I thought. But the world told me I was confused. Danny was special, but not in a good way. He has disabilities. I told the world it was confused. Danny was special, in an amazing way. He has abilities they will never be able to understand. But, of course, I was too little to fully grasp the situation and nobody would listen to me. So, here I am, 12 years later, with a philosophy unchanged. Disabilities do not exist, only abilities that are misunderstood; this I believe.

How does society define which needs are special or what abilities are normal to have? I myself have different needs and abilities than anyone else in the world and so does my brother. Perhaps Danny can’t tie his shoes, fix his own meals, or perform other simple daily tasks. But, people are not remembered or known for how well they perform simple daily tasks. Danny shouldn’t be either.

As Danny grew and I grew too I noticed he was different then most kids his age. However, these differences go deeper then what you might expect. I remember eating popsicles on a warm summer day with my brother. When I dropped it, being around six years old, I burst into hysterical sobs. Danny reached up to my face, wiped away my tears, and handed me his popsicle with a smile. “Share,” he told me. I knew in my heart he would react the same way with a stranger. Years later we took a family vacation to the Jersey Shore. We soon realized that Danny was terribly afraid of the ocean and much rather play in the sand, far away from the water. One day while at the beach I was playing in the water with another little girl. Suddenly, the waves doubled in height and began to knock us over. Danny fought his fears and rushed to our aid, pulling us out of danger. This was both a mental and physical challenge for him but he didn’t even hesitate. If his ability to love, care, and protect in such a pure manner is a disability then I’ve learned the definition wrong.

We all take pride in believing that we are all different. My beautiful baby brother is different too and I hope that every day of his life he takes pride in that. I hope he reaches every goal, no matter how high or low. I hope he always smiles, wipes away tears, and says “Share.” I hope he continues to annihilate his fears. Most of all, I hope that he always remembers he does not have disabilities but immeasurable abilities, perhaps abilities we could learn from. Annie Forts, a woman with Down Syndrome once said, “Don’t ever prejudge the limits of our abilities. We definitely will surprise you and sometimes we even surprise ourselves!” I believe that Annie Forts was entirely correct.

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