Thursday, August 15, 2013

Poster Child

Some of you may have seen Playette's picture on a poster via my FB page.

Last month, the IDSC selected her photo to help raise awareness and funds for the non-profit, all-volunteer organization that works hard to provide resources for families, friends, educators, and others whose lives are touched by someone with Ds.

We're both happy to support the IDSC and proud of our smiling girl who loves to be the center of attention, all in one endeavor.

Another reason I feel this poster is important is something that I touched upon yesterday. I feel that it's crucial for all of us in the Ds community and beyond to see that the condition does not discriminate. Ds is a completely random occurrence in the vast majority of cases. But something I learned quickly after Playette was born is that many, many people are surprised to learn that African-Americans can have Ds. It seems silly to me, and probably to many of you since you're here and know us, but it's true.

Why is that?

Well, because as minorities amongst another minority, our numbers are small. And then, when you get into cultural differences that are too varied and complicated to explain here, we just don't see one another often represented when we're participating in activities related to those who have special needs. What that can lead to is a lack of participation.

(Of course we all have Ds in common, but please refer to my "varied and complicated" statement above. And, yes, some responsibility does lie with the individual to step out of their comfort zone, but as a parent dealing with so much already, it's just one more barrier. One that the majority of the group does not have to deal with or understand, so please take that into account.)

That's another reason why the IDSC and other groups like the Minority Families Down Syndrome Network matter. There is a need to be met in our community and they are addressing it. If all it takes for one family to decide to come to a Buddy Walk or a Mom's Night Out or a conference is to see my baby girl on a poster and know they're not alone in this world? That people who look like them and can identify with certain nuances exist? Then I'm happy. We all need support and while there are many groups that address overarching issues that impact all of us, sometimes the additional comfort of not having to explain certain things is nice.

Back to the poster...

The caption is perfect for her.

She loves to be around other people and, once they get to know her, they have to love her. She wouldn't have it any other way. This chick is relentless with the winning-over-ness. Trust.

She's an interesting character, full of uniqueness, just like anyone else. I think what boggles most minds in relation to her is that she doesn't fit the mold they have in their mind for a person with Ds. They start out wanting to put her in a box that she doesn't fit into. In truth, I don't think most people with Ds do. Awareness is all about raising these limited expectations and eliminating antiquated preconceived notions.

A small donation can get you your own copy, as seen in the IDSC store. All profits go right back into the org, so don't hesitate to share with schools, doctor's offices, or any other place that could benefit from the knowledge that Down syndrome doesn't automatically equal a worst case scenario in life. I know seeing this could have helped me in my early post-diagnosis days.

Or maybe just get one for someone who needs a big, cheesy grin in their life.

That works, too.

=====Photo courtesy of The Captured Life

The inclusion of a diverse population of people with Ds is a priority, so if you have a child who happens to belong to a racial or ethnic minority group and you'd like them to participate in the IDSC's daily photo campaign, please contact me via the email in the sidebar.

Also, if you are the parent of an African-American child with Ds, send me an email and we can add you to the FB group if you are interested.


Me ;-) said...

I love this post! So much of it really hit home. You already know how INVALUABLE your blog has been to me. Thank you for all you've done and all that you continue to do ;-)

P.S. Please add me to the group!

Alison Piepmeier said...

Love it, love it, love it! I love everything you've said here! Yes, push for dismantling multiple stereotypes. It's more complicated, but also more important in so many ways.

Okay, now I'm wanting to say things that would require a lot of explanation (for instance, I'm dying to talk about the intersectionality your post addresses), so I'll reign myself in.