Monday, October 29, 2018

DSAM: I Dream Of Jeannie

Down Syndrome Awareness Month (DSAM) is coming to a close but not before I have the opportunity to share this years themed collaborative images. My friend Nicole and I worked together to bring you Danny and Sandy with our 'Grease' themed shoot last year (read it here). This year we chose to pay homage to the first episode of the classic show "I Dream of Jeannie" that originally aired in September of 1965.

The episode is that of unique discovery and Nicole and I thought this makes a fabulous analogy pertaining to having a child with Down Syndrome.
 Blake (AKA Major Nelson) stumbles upon the surprise of a Genie (Well, Jeannie)bottle washed up on the shore where he is stranded, alone. Our diagnosis of Down Syndrome came as a surprise and instantly I felt alone, stranded in an unknown land. 

I quickly came to find out that I had a unique and beautiful tour guide and I most certainly wasn't alone. What a beautiful community we instantly became a part of. I have connected with local mothers like Nicole and mothers from all over the world who were also once stranded on their own unique islands. 

Our children land into this world, in their unique form with their gifts and abilities. Nicole makes a great point about her magical daughter Amelia, that this world wants her to keep her magic hidden and wants her to be like everyone else. But Amelia, Blake and everyone else in their community can't help but share their magic with everyone they come in contact with. 

As a community we should not have to explain our children's worth, justify their existence, or constantly fight the systems that were designed to help them. We do still, every day. We also continue to advocate, educate and start meaningful conversations in an effort to share the magic we experience as well as the challenges. 

This adventure is full of twists and turns. No day like the last. Just like raising any other children. 

Society places limits on our community based on antiquated, myths and a hyper focus on what they CAN'T Do. Instead, imagine you looked at someone with a disability and saw only their strengths? or what they love to do? or ponder how you can assist them in achieving their individual dreams and goals? I am under no grand delusion about my son and his present levels. He will never be an astronaut like Major Nelson but he may love to study outer space, take an internship or job at NASA in another capacity if that is what he wants, or simply love space movies. The sky is the limit and I love him to the moon and back no matter what.

People with Down Syndrome want what everyone wants: To love and be loved. 
They wan't to be understood, respected, supported and given opportunities, just like you and I. They want to be meaningfully included in their communities, classrooms and conversations.

The celebration of differences is long overdue in our world. Why would we want to be like anyone else? (boring) Our humanity is what binds us in similarity, our differences are what help us evolve and grow to be the best version of ourselves. This is a quest that is never ending, for all of us.

Never loose sight of the magic in others or in yourself.

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