By Abigail Knight

This year in April, I started my very first paid job at PHD Media, which is a large advertising company for TV, Radio and Internet and is located in Mount Eden.

I was asked to come in for an interview and I remember feeling quite confident meeting my employer as they were very friendly people. Mel from PolyEmp accompanied me to my interview and helped me with all the paper work. I was so excited to be starting work in my dream job. My position is an Office Assistant working for 4 hours, from 8:30am to 12:30pm, Monday to Friday, with lots of jobs to do.

Every morning, I sort out the morning mail, restock the snack cupboard and the tea, coffee and milk in the kitchen and tidy it up. As well as that I tidy the stationary room, IT cupboard and the meeting rooms. I also help out with Reception, refilling printer paper and putting away Countdown and stationary orders (my favourite job) and I water the plants every Friday. The PR team also call on me when some extra help is needed. One of my important jobs is making the appointments for the staff massages which we are very lucky to get at our work.

When I finish work on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, I walk to the Medi Strength Gym to do my exercises. It is really convenient for me because it is right next to my work.

Mum takes me to work in the mornings, on her way to work. After work I catch a train to New Market and then a bus to get home.

I love working at my job in PHD Media because I like the jobs that I do and it’s the type of work environment I like working in.

My colleagues I work with are very helpful and they always tell me I do an amazing job of keeping everything tidy and getting my tasks done. When I first started my job, I had a list of tasks that I had to work through. Now I don’t need the list of tasks, because I know what my jobs are and I get them done quickly, so I can add more jobs.

I feel like I have a new work family.

By Kymberlee Fernandes of Stuff

Charlize stands with her painting

She might only be 13, but one of her artworks has already earned almost $3000.

Charlize Wilson  was named the winner of the  2018 IHC Art Awards People’s Choice Award from the 400 art entries across the country.

The South Auckland Middle School student says art helps her “be herself”.

“I like doing art because it’s so much fun,” she says.

Her painting is called Looking Out from the Inside.

“The art is just a person looking outside. She is happy, she likes the view a lot,” Charlize explains.

Her award includes $1,000 in prize money, but then collected a further $1,650 after the piece was auctioned.

When Charlize found out she won, she says she  felt like “a superstar”.

Her parents say she’s been singing and dancing ever since she could walk and first started drawing and painting at eight.

She’s been surrounded by that kind of environment – music, performing arts, her dad Petia Wilson says.

“It was probably natural for her to just pick up a brush and paint. I’m really impressed and happy for her.”

The IHC Art Awards have run since 2004 and is open to all New Zealanders with an intellectual disability, age 13 or over.

Thirty of the top artworks were selected by judges Jae Kang, Tim Walker and Sarah Wilkins where the winner of the  People’s Choice category was then selected by way of online public voting.

Charlize will join her dad in his upcoming art exhibition where she will contribute some abstract art pieces. Her next work will be about a girl looking at her phone.

Her mum, Caroline, says Charlize has always been good with colours and the canvas is an opportunity for her to showcase her world.

“Because of the fact that she has Down Syndrome, she sees things quite differently,” she says.

“It’s exciting because it gives us an insight into her world, and maybe explains the colours, the strokes and the angles.”

There are plans to eventually build a collection that revolves around the theme of a girl looking through.

“It gives a different angle of the world.”

Copyright: Stuff

Becky stands with her art work

IHC Art Awards Gala Event at Shed 6 in Wellington. Photo by Mark Coote/markcoote.com

An intricately detailed drawing by Dunedin artist Becky Donovan (centre) has won the 2018 IHC Art Awards and $5000.

Becky’s piece, Cat, after Barry Cleavin, is a tribute to Christchurch-based printmaker Barry Cleavin. She used graphite to copy a Barry Cleavin image, and then experimented with erasing what she’d done. Her intricately detailed stalking cat has its skeleton visible in some places.

This is not the first time that Becky’s work has been featured as a finalist in the IHC Art Awards. Her drawing, Fashion Models, came second in 2016.

Becky works at the IDEA Services Art Space studio in Dunedin. Art Space hosts between 30 and 35 artists with an intellectual disability. Over recent years, a number of Art Space artists have been successful in the national IHC Art Awards – reaching the finals and winning top prizes.

Second prize of $2000 went to Amanda Brennan and third prize of $1000 was won by Colleen Bauer. For the third year in a row the top three prizes went to an all-female line-up of artists.

There were 428 entries in this year’s Awards. At the gala event Art Awards Ambassador Dame Denise L’Estrange-Corbet noted this resulted in a broad range of mediums. “As well as the sheer volume of artwork, I am particularly impressed by the wide variety of media and themes, showcasing the versatility and scope from the people here in this room.”

The top three prize-winners were picked out of 30 finalists nationwide and announced at Shed 6 in Wellington on Thursday 26 July. The finalists’ work was auctioned at the event, with all proceeds from the sales going solely to the artists.

We are Mrs and Mr Vaccarino

By Vinnie Vaccarino

On January 12th at St Luke’s Church in Havelock North in Hawkes Bay everything looked amazing and was ready to have perfect wedding for me and Rachel.

I had a best man Gareth Smith and a groomsman Benji Oemcke.

Rachel had three bridesmaids, our sisters Siobhan Vaccarino, Abbie Oemcke and a friend Robin Neilson. We also had three flower girls.

I was nervous standing at the altar waiting for Rachel. When I saw a perfect bride walk in with her father it was so awesome and I just started crying with tears. I said to Rachel that she was so beautiful, my princess.

The beautiful bride

We had two people, Pastor Sue Lacey and my Dad marry me and Rachel. My dad did the vows and rings and said you are husband and wife. I kissed Rachel before Dad said you can kiss the bride. My Dad said “Ok, now you can kiss the bride!” everyone laughed when I gave Rachel another kiss.

Our friend played the guitar and sang “Can you feel the love tonight” but he changed some of the words just for me and Rachel. Then we played Dancing Queen and danced out the church and all the people took lots of photos of us.

We then left in the old fancy white car and then this guy gave us a ride to Birdswood Gallery for chitchat with people and afternoon tea. We had more photos and then me and Rachel had a first dance.

Then the talented photographers Toni Larson and Jo took family photos. I did a speech then more photos and then we cut the cake.

Our friends

We then needed to go and everyone made two long rows and we walked between them and said bye. Then we drove to a huge mountain and we walked up a path for photographs.

We were tired and hungry so we had a picnic in the car before we went back to Birdswood for dancing, hanging out, speeches, dinner and more dancing.

At the end of evening we went to Porters Boutique Hotel for our honeymoon. I planned our honeymoon with lots of special things. We had two nights at the hotel in Havelock North hotel and then two days in Napier.

We did not do what I had planned because my wife got very sick. I was very, very, very sad and I phoned for help. She got better but was sick all the time while we were away and I helped to look after Rachel.

We then went back home to Palmerston North and my parents surprised us and booked a hotel for us to stay at for a couple of days. We loved that.

On January 19th we had another celebration in Palmerston North which was lots of fun. I enjoyed getting ready for the blessing and Rachel looked very beautiful.

We had the wedding blessing at an old small church near our house and I loved how my sister and her friend Rebekah decorated the church. We walked down the aisle together and a friend shared a message and served us communion.

We had lots of photographs and then went to my parents’ house for a party. We had speeches, our first dance, lots of dancing and dessert.

Our friends from our dance group did two special things for me and Rachel: a special song and dance to Uptown Girl and a Haka. It was incredible.

We had a great party, it was very late when we left and went to a hotel.

I think it is very awesome for a young man with Down syndrome to get married to a perfect bride.

I am so happy.

The bride and groom

 

 

NEW BEGINNINGS

My son Logan is a 21 year old man with Down Syndrome, Autism, Dyspraxia and mild intellectual disability.

Recently on our Facebook page I posted a video of Logan in action at the Living Options café in Alexandra, Central Otago.

I would like to share our incredible journey over the last three years with you all, the highs and lows in the hope it will give others the insight, that great things can and will happen for our children and families.

February 2016 saw a rare weekend away for me without Logan and while on a ride along the Central Otago Rail Trail, I came alongside a young 18 year old woman with Down Syndrome and her support worker out for a Saturday afternoon ride. I still distinctly recall the soft toy elephant in the basket on the back of her bike, As Logan was around the same age, like all of us parents, I was keen to spend a few minutes riding and talking with them to see how other families, individuals and their parents handle life’s challenges in what for most of us is a murky, unchartered journey.

We spoke only for 5-6 minutes, but that 5-6 minutes was to majorly change our lives!

I was explaining life with Logan and my worries and fears for the future with the support worker who asked me “have you heard of Living Options here in Alexandra?”

Living Options is an organisation which came about by the vision of one woman who saw a need for families of special needs people and owing to her compassionate nature, formed the foundations of this organisation from her garage.

Living Options

Living Options in Alexandra

Living Options Charitable Trust was set up in Alexandra in 2011 to provide support services in Central Otago for people with intellectual, physical and sensory disabilities enabling them to live independently in their own community. Prior to that such people often had to leave their family and community in order to receive the services they required. In recent years Living Options has extended its services into the Queenstown/Wakatipu area. Individuals are encouraged to take control over their own lives and to have input into any major decisions affecting them. Support is flexible, focusing on the person with the family and whanau involvement.

Living Options has an activity centre in Alexandra providing recreational and educational opportunities and training in life and social skills.

Upon returning from my weekend away I embarked on researching and discovering what I could about this place. Once I established contact we travelled up for a couple of visits with Logan, who clearly was totally at ease and loved being there. Finally he was in a place where he wasn’t judged, could comfortably be himself and was accepted by all for the person he is.

Logan painting

Logan Painting

Logan working on his painting ‘New Beginnings’

 

I was desperate for Logan to have an amazing life in a warm, safe, loving environment and Living Options clearly met my vision for Logan. This is a service provider which clearly puts the emphasis, not only on the individual but also firmly on the family and the care management and staff provide is exceptional.

As we were Invercargill based, and clearly there was nothing of this calibre there and a future that was uncertain, January 2017 saw us purchase a home in Roxburgh (30 minutes south of Alexandra) which we rented while familiarisation with the area and upcoming changes were implemented for Logan.

Twelve months later I took the biggest gamble of my life, sold up everything and moved up fulltime so Logan could attend the centre during the day and work towards a permanent residential contract ultimately seeing him living as independently as possible while having full support when needed. This was a journey that was going to test us all and would either be a success or a failure, and I was extremely hesitant to leave what I already knew, however to keep everyone happy, and to give Logan the best opportunity possible, I made this move.

This was a tough period with days starting at 5.30am, commuting 42.4km into Alexandra (at times in foggy, icy, white out conditions during winter), dropping Logan off, facing a full day at work before collecting him at the end of the day and returning home. Then began the usual regime with Logan sorting him for the evening before settling for the night so I could finally sit down, usually 10pm for a breather and bed before the following day saw the same routines present themselves.

I was also struggling with issues from my own childhood in this area and working in the town and seeing landmarks everyday was impacting more on me than I thought they would. It was difficult to come in daily to a place that harboured many unpleasant memories for me.

This daily grind took a major toll on me with constant tears and breakdowns, but each time management at the centre would promptly sit me down, make phone calls, and juggle rosters just so Logan could have 3-4 nights in a house so I could have a breather. These periods were instrumental in me keeping my sanity.

The many years of living a life with a disability and daily issues ultimately took its toll on my relationship and in November 2018 my partner of 17 years and I parted ways.

This had been coming for quite some time and the only silver lining was Logan’s direction in life and the vision I had for him over the last decade particularly was coming into fruition.

Logan is now thriving in his new environment and as of March this year is now under a fulltime residential contract. He lives in a flat with two other flatmates/friends and is involved in all aspects of running a household, including chores and meal preparations with full support when needed. The interaction with his peers is amazing and his progress in a very short time astounds me.

Baking

Food prep

Food prep in the kitchen

With the help of CCS in Alexandra, and in conjunction with Living Options Logan has a supported job working with and exercising puppies in a local boarding kennels and soon will also be working watering plants in the garden section of a local retailer giving him the same things we all need in our lives, a sense of self – worth, belonging and a team member whose contributions are valued.

Thursday afternoons from 1.30 – 3.30pm Living Options run a community café open to the public with everyone involved in various roles, whether it be taking orders, plating up, being a waiter or waitress, clearing tables. It’s not uncommon for up to 70 people to come and support this incredible venture. All the food is cooked, made or baked the day prior, once again with all members of the centre being involved.

Cafe waiter

Logan enjoying being a Waiter at the Café.

Thanks to this amazing place, management and staff second to none, I now have the support I need to finally, after 21 years, get some of my life back which I will admit is exciting, but is also taking a bit of getting used to!

Sitting here writing this and reflecting I guess the point I wish to share with you all is this……

I’ve had two relationship breakups, faced alcohol issues, depression and mental health issues, I’ve had to confront the past and had an unstable work history in the quest for finding a good work/life balance. I’ve battled agencies, been knocked back numerous times, shed tears and tantrums as well as experiencing laughs, smiles, milestones and magical moments on this 21year journey. Whatever your vision, goals or desires you have for your children and their future – keep striving, keep going. You’ll have mountains to climb and dark days to face – but keep going and never give up because the destination is so worth the at times arduous journey – this I can promise you!

So if you happen to be passing through Alexandra on a Thursday between 1.30 and 3.30pm, call in, say hi and check out Café 29 at Living Options centre – You’ll be warmed by the smiles on the faces and the best damn coffee and cake in town, I’ll stake my reputation in it!

 

Logan and his Dad

Finally enjoying the rewards for the journey travelled.

 

Duncan Small – A Man of the Land

Charlotte Gendall looks back at the life of Duncan Small a remarkable man with Down syndrome who left a big legacy in his rural community.

Duncan as a baby with Mum Paula

Shepherd, shearer, dog trialist, horseman, bartender and all round man of the land: Duncan Small was a big character around the small town communities of Taihape and Hunterville in the northern Rangitikei .

At a recent equestrian competition in Taihape, visitors might have been intrigued by the Duncan Small Memorial Jump. The blue and white obstacle featured in the premier ring at the showjumping championships and was also the centre piece of a special class named after the said Duncan.

With riders from all over the North Island taking part, I had to ask “Who was Duncan Small?” The answer was instantaneous. “You didn’t know Duncan? Everyone knew Duncan!”

From talking to his friends at the show, it became clear that their affection for this man was motivated by multiple factors: admiration for his determination, his talent (was he the only Down syndrome shearer in the country?), and his enthusiasm for life, coupled with the way the unconditional support of a loving family had helped him thrive.

Duncan and his siblings

Duncan Small was born in the Taihape Maternity Home in June 1970, the first child to Paula and Jimmy. A formal diagnosis of Down syndrome six weeks later made little difference to getting on with life – it was home to the farm.

Duncan was out on the horses with his father while still in nappies – “my mate,” says Jimmy – and the youngster was frequently rocked to sleep while sitting in front of the saddle by the paces of Dad’s shepherd’s hack they travelled around the hill country of Pohonui Station.

Tug o' war

Talking, laughing and gathering friends as he grew, Duncan initially went to school in Taihape and then when the family moved to Hunterville, he attended the local school and later Whanganui IHC and then on to flatting in a supported environment.

But truly, Duncan’s heart lay in the country. As a talented teen, in 1987 he and Paula travelled to the USA as part of the New Zealand Special Olympics squad, and three years of training paid off with multiple medals.

However it seems taking the boy out of the country couldn’t take the country out of the boy. The 17 year old rang Jimmy from the States. “Dad, I got two golds and two bronze. I finished Olympics, I’m coming home to go docking.”

Duncan on the farm

Retiring from international sport, Duncan threw his heart into rural life. He was given a former pack horse called Scooby, and now had the freedom to get around the steep country independently.

A series of dogs followed: Bacon, Scruff and Sam. Sam was his favourite partner, and Duncan was hugely proud of their victory in the Maiden Huntaway at Poukiore Dog Trials.

At about this time, the Man from Snowy River came out as a movie which Duncan loved dearly. Styling himself as Banjo Patterson’s hero, he was the self-styled “Man from Pohonui.”

Clearly, Duncan Small knew his own mind. For one birthday, Paula and Jimmy asked Duncan what he wanted. The answer was a bar. A bar? “A bar. Like a pub.” A bar was installed at Pohonui with all the fancy bits: nip pourer, mirrors and so forth.

Duncan loved to entertain and his gregarious manner made him a natural at hospitality, always topping everyone’s glass up before it was empty so no one could go home early.

With Jimmy and Anna on the beach
In 1999, Jimmy and Duncan moved to Otiwhiti Station where they spent very happy five years and then in 2004, Jimmy placed the sum for a house deposit in Duncan’s account. Duncan wrote the cheque and purchased “Dunc’s Place” in the Pukeori Valley where Jimmy still lives.

Rural life was Duncan’s life: he loved travelling to shows and hunting events with Jimmy in the horse truck. He competed in the shepherd’s classes at sports meetings, watching his dad showjump while helping out with the competitions.

Duncan riding
When the partnership with Scooby ended, it became difficult to find another horse so perfectly suited to Duncan.

Recognising his love of their sport, the Rangitikei Hunt appointed him as their non-riding honorary kennels man, a role Duncan took extremely seriously. Wearing his committee badge, he was constantly on hand to release and truck up the hounds on farms all over the district.

Shearing sheep is one of the most gruelling occupations around but always strong and fit from gymnastics, Duncan made the task look easy and wasn’t just for show – he notched up a best crutching tally of 200 in a day.

Duncan shearing

As a fastidious homemaker with skills learnt from his mum Paula, a big brother to Ginny, Rachel and the late Rebecca, it’s clear Duncan Small lived a full and happy life.

When the onset of dementia revealed itself, he continued to be lovingly cared for at home by Jimmy and the family until called up to a final muster last year at the age of 47.

Which brings us on to a hot summer’s day at the Taihape championships six months later, on the sportsground Duncan knew, the arena surrounded by burnt pasture, steep hills and sheep.

In years to come, the Duncan Small Memorial Jump will continue to be contested here and at other venues around the district. Perhaps other people will ask “what’s that all about?” It would be their privilege to learn about a man who combined the very best qualities of character, friendship and loyalty.

I wish I’d met him.

— Charlotte Gendall

Duncan Small

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Charlotte Gendall wrote this article after speaking to people who knew Duncan Small, after talking to his dad Jimmy, and with the benefit of reading a tribute from his sisters Ginny and Rachel, some of which she has adapted here.

Duncan and his sisters

 

Joe Payton has good reason to celebrate his 40th birthday this year. Joe completed Run Away: Hawke’s Bay International Marathon over the weekend and succeeded in more ways than one.

Joe was running for his son, Otis, who turns 10 this year and has Down syndrome. Otis, like many kids with Down syndrome, faced an uphill battle learning to communicate.

A combination of low muscle tone, a larger tongue inside a smaller oral cavity, and intellectual developmental delay, make it much harder for kids with Down syndrome to learn to speak.

So, in 2011 when Otis was only an infant, the Payton whanau became members of the UpsideDowns Education Trust, a charity that provides speech language therapy for kids with Down syndrome.

“While I was out running one day, I thought, I turn 40 this year and Otis turns 10, so it would be good to do something to celebrate this ‘milestone’. I thought it would be a good idea to raise money for the UpsideDown Education trust as they have supported Otis with speech language therapy over the years,” said Joe.

He set himself the huge fundraising goal of $10,000, and to inspire donors to ‘go big’ themselves, aimed to complete the marathon in under 3 hours, something fewer than 4% of male runners achieve.

“It all seemed pretty simple, train hard and run as hard as I could and I was reasonably confident I could get under the 3-hour mark, but about 5 weeks into a 12-week training programme, my left calf muscle started tightening up and I would get minor tears which meant I couldn’t run,” said Joe.

Only a week out, Joe was fearing the worst but got the tip from his brother-in-law to roll a golf ball under his foot which released all the tension in his calves.
“I felt like I might be able to actually run it,” said Joe.

“I didn’t get under 3hrs, but I couldn’t have gone any faster. It’s been an awesome experience and I hope the money raised has a real impact on the kids that need speech language therapy and their families,” said Joe who raised over $13,000 for kids like Otis.

“That’s enough to provide speech therapy for a child with Down syndrome for their whole primary school education. It’s an extraordinary achievement for an individual fundraiser – by far the biggest I’ve seen in my time with UpsideDowns,” says Sarah Paterson-Hamlin, Operations Manager of UpsideDowns.

Joe and Otis

 

The Down syndrome community in New Zealand includes huge numbers of Shortland Street fans and they were excited to see Jacob Dombroski become the first actor with Down syndrome to feature in one of the country’s iconic shows.

Jacob in reception at Shortland Street hospital

The Wellingtonian actor already has an impressive track record and performed his successful one-man dance, music and theatre show Big J Stylez at the Wellington Fringe Festival and Auckland’s Herald Theatre.

That is where he was spotted by Shortland Street producer Maxine Fleming who casted him for a three show guest appearance.

The 26-year-old played the character Winston who is the younger brother of Lincoln and Prince Kimiora.

Jacob acting a scene on Shortland Street

The talented actor and dancer told the Herald on Sunday that his character was “nice, chatty and always open hearted”.

He told the paper that he was lifetime fan of Shortland Street and that landing the role was a dream come true.

“I’m so happy about this opportunity and being able to challenge myself,” he told the Herald on Sunday.

The Big J Stylez show was a breakthrough moment for Jacob and shows his the struggles he faced growing up.

The show was created with Wellington theatre company Everybody Cool Lives Here, where Jacob gets the full support of the artistic brainstrust of Rose Kirkup and Nic Lane.

Shortland Street producer Fleming said that they were always looking for new voices and she had heard about Jacob’s outstanding performance in Big J Stylez.

“So we flew him up to discuss creating a guest role for him on the show as Lincoln and Prince Kimiora’s brother,” she told the Herald.

Jacob and a fellow Shortland Street actor

 

Duncan Armstrong claims Best Performance Award at Auckland Fringe Festival

Duncan Armstrong is back home after taking Auckland Fringe Festival by storm.

Duncan performing

The success was a while in the making but Duncan managed to take his performing arts career to the next level by a collaboration with Nic and Rose from Everybody Cool Lives Here.

Last September, director Isobel MacKinnon and Duncan started devising what became ‘Force Field’.

Using Duncan’s personal experience and ideas borrowed from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the pair took two weeks to create a story line for a 25 minute show and a character named Chris.

“Chris imagines someone there and then they find romance,” says Duncan. “To Chris, Fiona is a real character…she’s out there somewhere”.

In November the team expanded by recruiting a few designers and by mid-January the team was working full-time on the show.

“It’s fun and a lot of work, sometimes I get tired  from  it,” tells Duncan.

“Sometimes we have to take a break and then come back to it. Then you are refreshed and recharged.”

Duncan in character

Before heading up to Auckland, the team tested the work with a few invited guests, including Duncan’s mum, Max. Character parallels with real life included wanting to move out of home, a story line that may not best delivered to an unexpected mum on the opening night.

The Basement Theatre season ran for five nights and the team managed to stay with friends, giving Duncan a taste of living with flatmates.

After a week of catching up with sleep, the Auckland Fringe Awards were announced and Force Field took home four awards, including Best Director, Best Production Design, and Best Performance (Theatre) for Duncan.

Everybody Cool Lives Here followed the awards up by attending the annual Performing Arts Market where Duncan pitched his solo alongside Jacob Dombroski.

Fingers crossed it means a step forward to touring the works to regional theatres and festivals. A Wellington return season is definitely on the cards for Force Field, and Duncan is currently looking at what it might take to get the work to Edinburgh Fringe.

Duncan and his fellow actors

 

One evening in in March, I received an email from a dear friend, Ruby Wills, who is the Southern Coordinator of Upp Club Dunedin. She had sent me an invitation from The Med Students Association to speak at their Otago University Medical Students Conference.

My role was to speak on behalf of people with Down syndrome so it was a challenge to make a PowerPoint presentation and a speech to go with it, because I had to speak for at least 15 minutes.

First of all, I had to write a speech talking about my achievements and my experience with doctors, so it meant to choose the right photographs and to start building ap a Power Point presentation.

It took me a month to get organised. I was watching some videos on YouTube on how to talk clear and loud and make myself understood, practicing my speech in front of a mirror so I can be more comfortable so I can be ready to speak in front of the audience, putting my slides in order so the photos fitted with my speech.

And many more details, so when the big day comes I will be well prepared.

Speaking at the conference

The big day comes and I was on my way to meet Ruby at the Otago Museum, because the night before we decided to meet there.
All of the Med students were already there and I got myself introduced from that day until today. I have made dear friends who I will cherish forever.

On Saturday May 25, my friend Ruby started to speak first because she wanted to tell the Med students how she got involved in the role of becoming the Co-coordinator of Upp Club and the wonderful opportunities that this club has to offer. Then she introduced me so I could have my turn to speak.

I spoke with such enthusiasm that I made them to applaud me at the end.

The gala dinner

That night Ruby and I got invited to go to their Gala dinner at the Savoy and we had such a FANTASTIC evening. We had a delicious buffet and we danced until we dropped. There was a professional photographer who took many photographs of us. In other words, I had a wonderful experience.

An evening of fun

The topic of my speech was about a doctor’s influence in people with Down syndrome lives.
I said that one in every eight hundred people is born with Down syndrome; and doctors have to remember some key points if they one day see a baby with Down syndrome and they could have heart conditions, thyroid dysfunctions, vision, hearing, respiratory infections and intestinal problems.

Doctors also have to understand that people with Down syndrome are not sick, that it is not a disease and we do not suffer from it.

Fun on the dance floor

Parents who are receiving the Chat 21 journal and have a baby with Down syndrome please remember to take care of your baby’s health so they can develop better.
Also believe in our ability because we do extraordinary things, we can be part of society, we can be part of groups like STRIVE or Upp Club.
We can learn and we have different skills, we have big dreams and want to make them come true.

We can achieve many things in life if we have the opportunities and you, doctors and parents, can help us to make that big difference.
Think about the great effect you have on the lives of people with Down syndrome

Remember,
Like Michael Jackson’s song says:

Heal the world, make it a better place, for you me and the entire human race.  

Carlos dancing