WDSD is quickly approaching!
We have seen the socks, and the cool tee shirts, the pictures of all the people with Down syndrome, and their amazing accomplishments. What we often forget about the ROCK YOUR SOCKS campaign is that we are supposed to EDUCATE our classes/families/friends/co-workers/employees/community
members/teachers/bosses/grandmothers...EVERYONE about what living with Down syndrome is. Not only do we explain that WDSD is on the 21st Day of the 3rd month to represent the 3rd copy of the 21st chromosome BUT also how people with that extra chromosome are often seen as less than or unworthy of the same opportunities as neurotypical people. Often, people with Down syndrome and their families have to fight for equitable opportunities in areas such as education, careers, sports, extra-curricular activities, and even just to belong to the community at large.
People with Down syndrome are NOT the same as neurotypical people. However, that should not define their value, and worthiness in belonging, and contributing to any space they choose to occupy. People with Down syndrome want access to the same opportunities as everyone else. They want to work for a living making a decent wage. They want access to inclusive education, with access to post-secondary opportunities. Many people with intellectual disabilities DO ATTEND college. They live on their own. They enter into committed, meaningful relationships, like marriage or life long friendships - EVEN IF THEY DON'T - Think, how many more could access these same opportunities if we as a society would be wiling to provide appropriate, and equitable supports for ALL people? ALL people should be afforded the same privilege of being exactly who they are, just as they are, and ACCEPTED fully for that.
Yes. Yes, it's work to meet everyone's needs, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't do it. It means that we, meaning all of us able-bodied neurotypical folks, have to be more intentional, do more planning, have more conversations, and most importantly shift ours (and others) mindset to truly believing that every single human being has value exactly as they are. People with Down syndrome, and often other disabilities, enter into a space and feel they must prove they are worthy of that space. The rest of us, able-bodied, neurotypical, walk in and believe we are entitled to that space. That's privilege. We don't have to prove ourselves to anyone. We are accepted for who we are in that moment. The reverse is not often true. it can be intimidating interacting with a person who is different from us. FOR SURE it can. This is exactly why we need to do the work to become educated, have more interactions with humans of all abilities, and have interactions or conversations that might make us uncomfortable. Soon the uncomfortable becomes comfortable with practice and repetition.
True inclusion is when ANY and ALL humans have this same privilege, access, and opportunity. Our work is not done until "we" becomes "US" not them. Our work is not done until we all BELONG.
For more resources and information to share with your groups please visit the "Resources" tab on the CHF website by clicking here.