As a parent to child with special needs, days set aside to celebrate our children’s differences and to spread awareness are days important and close to my heart. This month there are two such days; World Down Syndrome Awareness (March 21), and Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day (March 25).
Four years ago I would meet one of the happiest, charming, and loving little girls, whose smile was like sunshine bursting through the clouds, spreading warmth to everyone around her. Her name is Emma and Emma has Down Syndrome. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Down Syndrome, it is caused by a genetic occurrence that produces an extra chromosome. Emma would form a kindred bond with my daughter Olivia, who as most know, has Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. The first time Emma laid eyes on Olivia, she walked over, bent down because Olivia was seated in her wheelchair, and gave her the gentlest kiss on the forehead. No words were spoken, both girls being nonverbal, but the emotions and love passed between them was well heard.
Love knows no boundaries, and such love is what we all should focus on. Differences aside, we are all the same beneath our skin. Days like World Down Syndrome Day and Cerebral Palsy Awareness helps to break down those boundaries, teaching everyone that different is beautiful, it is love, it is acceptance, it is wonderful.