Down syndrome

Happiness to Infinity

The Woodley Park area of DC was converged upon this weekend by hundreds of families who have been touched by Down syndrome in one way or another.  Every day as I walked from the Metro to the hotel, I was greeted by the bright, smiling faces of a group of people I love so much. Each day I spent with the Youth and Adult Conference for people with Down syndrome was filled with more joy than I have words to express. My dad once wrote about being able to, “keep happiness to infinity in your breast-pocket.” That’s what I wish I could do with this weekend. I wish I could take the joy I felt and keep it in my pocket to take out when I get scared about Abby’s future, or when I am a little sad.

It was while I was basking in this glow, waiting for my Metro train to arrive when I saw two teenage boys pretending to have Down syndrome. They had undoubtedly seen the many, many children and adults with Down syndrome who were attending the conference and seeing the sights in DC.  My heart sank as I watched them mimic and make fun of my child. Of the wonderful people I had just spent my weekend with.

I tried to brush it off as I usually do. I know very well the world still thinks it’s okay to make fun of this group of people. I know I’m not going to change that by being the crazy lady who screams and cries at two punks in a subway that really just don’t know better. Later, I got on twitter hoping to find pictures uploaded by people at the conference. My initial search for “IDSC” didn’t show up anything so I typed in “Down syndrome.” A whole string of Down syndrome jokes and other such terrible things came up. I got that feeling in the pit of my stomach again.

The anger. If you are doing this, you are making fun of a group that would not do the same to you. Not because they can’t. They could. My new friend Creighton could spar with the best of them. They just would never be mean to be mean.  They are better than that. I have never met a more accepting group of people in my entire life. There was no pettiness. No one was left out. Everyone was quick to introduce themselves, and quick to invite anyone sitting alone to sit with them. Happiness truly comes naturally. When someone did say something that ended up being hurtful, quick apologies were made, as was forgiveness. We have a lot to learn from this group of people.

Too many people see people with Down syndrome as a burden to society. A people without a place. Something to be afraid of or sad about.  These are people who obviously haven’t spent ANY time with people with Down syndrome. Because if they had, they would not think that way. They would never make fun of them. They would never trample them down.

used with permission from IDSC for Life

So that’s what I’m asking. If you’re still afraid of people with Down syndrome, or if they make you feel sad, or uncomfortable, take a closer look. The ISDC for Life is doing an amazing amount of good with their photo campaign. Start there. Then, go and volunteer at the Special Olympics or at the Arc. There are opportunities all around you to be able to be with these fantastic people.  You will be changed for good. I guarantee you this. You will learn a new kind of joy. You will enter a world that is far better than the world you are in now. And then you, too, will be able to carry happiness to infinity in your breast pocket.

The International Down Syndrome Coalition’s website is:
http://www.idscforlife.org/
Their Facebook page is:
http://www.facebook.com/IDSCforLIFE

The Special Olympics Page website is:
http://www.specialolympics.org, from there you can find ways to volunteer.

Please, please, share.

7 thoughts on “Happiness to Infinity

  1. Basking in the glow – exactly the term I used this morning, too! It was an amazing experience, and I'm jealous of you getting to spend so much time with the youth and adults!! You've said it perfectly here – they are *better* than that.I have never felt so inspired in my life. If I didn't know it fully before, I now know for sure that everything will be okay.

  2. Glad you had a good weekend! I am always amazed by the overwhelmingly positive attitude adults with disabilities have about their lives and situations. We do have lots to learn from them.PS- Abby needs the extra chromosome shirt that the cutie in the picture has on!!! 🙂 Abby is DEFINITELY rocking her's!

  3. I am jealous of feeling that embrace! Wish I could have gone! I know how hard it is to put that anger towards others aside. Love the pic of Abby!

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