I have been the Awareness Leader at the Canadian Down Syndrome Society for many years now, and a lot of my job is about advocacy. When I think of advocacy, I think of things like education, communication, families, hard times for people, and all the other ways that people need help sometimes. Advocacy is about sharing the stories of our lives so that people can understand who we are. For me, advocacy means helping people and families who have Down syndrome. Some of the help I give them is to see that they are special in many different ways, because sometimes that can be hard to see for people.
I have always wanted to share my story from the time when I was growing up all the way until now, because it might be important or cool to other people. Sometimes I do this by talking to people- I love talking to my coaches at baseball or swimming, my support workers, my family, or my friends. They know my story because I keep telling them all the time, and it only takes a moment for them to listen to what I have to say. When they listen to my story, I feel respected and very happy that they are hearing me! When I meet a new person, that is where I first off introduce myself to them and tell them all about my interests and my work at CDSS. I can just talk and talk and talk haha!
Because I work at CDSS, I have some other ways I have been able to share my story as well over the years. As the Awareness Leader a lot of the little things I do every day like sending out information packages or writing thank you cards is also a small way to connect with people and talk to them about myself. When we send out information packages to new parents, there is a letter from me that tells them a little about my life and tells them that their child can do a lot of things. Hearing about me helps them to not be so sad or scared about having their new baby because they can see that having Down syndrome is normal like me, and now they know one person with Down syndrome already which makes things much less scary.
One big opportunity for being an advocate is on special days to raise awareness like on World Down Syndrome Day on March 21st.Every year we do different things here at CDSS to help get ready and spread the message like watching out for the lights across the country but my favourite way of helping is answering the phones from the office here since talking to people is one of my favourite ways to be an advocate!
By learning each others’ stories, we can know all about each other. I am more comfortable knowing that wherever I go there are people who I know and who know me. The more we talk to each other the more that we can help each other, and that helps our whole community. One of my favourite ways to share MY story is right here: my blog! Thanks for reading and getting to know me a little better. It is important for all people to have a place that they can be heard just like me!