If you happen to follow us on Facebook, you may already know that I was given 2 incredible opportunities to be a guest lecturer. I can't even say how honored I was to be given the opportunity - twice.
The first time was in the local college, for the Early Childhood Education (ECE) students. It was perfect timing and totally relevant to our lives seeing as we are trying to make the transition to preschool right now. Soon enough preschool will become school. These young people will have a direct relationship with children like Hazel, maybe even Hazel herself, one day very soon. The 2nd presentation was to a University class where the students may go in many directions. Some students will work in the medical profession, some in the occupational therapy/physical therapy field, some teachers.
No matter the outcome or the future for each of these students, they will likely find themselves in interactions with individuals with special needs in the community. I hope that after our talk they will feel a little bit more prepared and equipped to see each individual person with respect and kindness, then they already were.
My hope was to be able to provide a HOLISTIC and ACCURATE view of children with Down syndrome. To provide information about our daily lives and all the little extras that come along with having a child with special needs.
I tried to express how the "it takes a village" mentality becomes more true with every passing week. We have a "TEAM" of skilled professionals and loved ones that help us to bring our Hazel to her full potential. And soon these students will be part of the "TEAM," maybe not ours but somebody's. They will soon have the power to help individuals reach their full potential.
One of my biggest hopes for both of these groups was to try and create COMPASSION. Compassion for what our children have to face, for what our families deal with from day-to-day. Compassion in terms of recognizing that individuals with Down syndrome are somebody's daughter, son, brother, sister, granddaughter, grandson, cousin, friends, niece, nephew, and so on. They belong to a family, a community of people who are all trying so very hard to help them reach their full potential, just as we do with ALL CHILDREN.
These students will soon be given the opportunity to INCLUDE Hazel. To make her feel that she belongs. To treat her exactly how she needs to be treated. To not only accept her for who she is, but to celebrate it. Most importantly, to model the celebration of who she is for other children to see.
Compassion - living it, teaching it, modeling it, sharing it ultimately means SPREADING IT!
Many MANY many thanks to this lovely lady for letting me talk to her University students. To be able to give Hazel a voice, and ultimately Down syndrome a voice makes me feel so good as a mother. It gives my heart peace to know that some of the new generation will truly understand and respect individuals who happen to be a little different.
Poor Hazel was sick for the University presentation so I had to bring a doll to rePREsent. An amazing doll that was made to look and dress just like Hazel, all the way down to the 2 scars on her chest from her surgeries. Given to Hazel by her Auntie Paula, made by a company called Feel Better Friends. Look them up on Facebook.
Last thing I want to say is THANK YOU to all these lovely people who sat and truly listened as I told them our story. They were engaged, they listened, they nodded along, and I'm pretty sure there were times they had a tear in their eye (judge free zone). But by far, the most important thing they did was, agree to help me make the world a better place for my baby girl. THAT alone sends a calm over my heart that cannot be written into words. Thanks so kindly for listening and more importantly hearing and acting on my message. With your contribution Hazel will grow up in a world where she is understood, accepted and loved. So, just, THANKS!