Friday, March 21, 2014

3-21 | TRISOMY 21 | WORLD DOWN SYNDROME AWARENESS DAY

Today is a very special day, it's a day that is near and dear to my heart... World Down Syndrome Awareness Day. I'll be the first to admit that growing up I was uncomfortable with special needs. I never knew exactly what to say or do, or how to act. I did not understand.

I began reading blogs when I started college in 2010. The first blog I read daily was Enjoying the Small Things by Kelle Hampton. I read this post and my heart was forever changed. Each and every time I read that post the tears just keep flowin'. Kelle writes about the birth of her daughter Nella, who she didn't know had Down syndrome until the moment she saw her. It's her story of coming to terms with what that means and learning how to love fully through watching her older daughter love her baby sister without judgement... You should read it.

And God knew... God knew my heart for Down syndrome had changed and He placed a little girl into my life, Mia.
For countless summers I was a swim coach. In summer of 2011, I was given the privilege of coaching a little 5-year-old with Down syndrome. Mia was my biggest challenge and greatest joy. She changed my heart with her determination, frustration and radiant smiles. I'll never forget her blatant NOs and she ecstatic joy when she accomplished a goal. I have been able to coach Mia for three summers but last summer definitely stands out.
The day she swam a whole lap in a swim meet in front of over a hundred people... I sobbed. I was standing there at the end of the lane with her parents cheering her on, keeping her looking and swimming forward and sobbing. When she climbed out at the end, I will never forget this moment, Mia looked up at me and asked, "Did I do good?" I just smiled and laughed through my tears and said, "You did amazing sweet girl and I am SO proud of you."

My sister works at a special needs preschool here in Raleigh and I love being able to go and volunteer in her class one day a week. The little girl above is Ella and she also has three copies of the 21st chromosome. I must say, she has captured my heart (and Taylor's) as well!

Working with children with special needs is truly a gift. I am so thankful that by finding a blog God changed my heart and taught me how to love regardless of differences.
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1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful post!! Those girls are amazing (and adorable)!

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