I can hear them laughing and squealing with delight as I type. Zigi and his school friend Alex are hanging out at our place today playing hide and seek (Zigi’s favourite game of all time – unless you offer to play “dolls” with him – then he is your friend for life!)
This is the sound of inclusion in action. Friendship in its purest form!
This is the stuff that makes our hearts well with the joy that comes because we can see that, despite our worries, Zigi will find his way in this world!
Friendship is a superpower
Alex is one of the many little “heroes” that surround our son with unconditional acceptance and genuine friendship.
Every school morning he is among the small crowd of kids that gather around to welcome Zigi to class and help him settle in for the day. It is a massive help after the daily struggle we can sometimes have getting him there! (You can read about that in my earlier blog here.)
Zigi tells us about Alex … and Cooper and Sari and Holly and Mimi and other little heroes who play with him during little lunch and big lunch and who help him with “letters and numbers” at school.
He (like many of Zigi’s friends) puts up with Zigi’s short attention span, bossy attitude and overly zealous affections and moments where Zigi forgets to use his “gentle hands” at play. He forgives and forgets as we all try to help Zigi learn to be better the next day.
It is friends like these – and their understanding and supportive families – that will make the world a place where Zigi will have the freedoms to live an independent life as a much loved member of his community.
Friendship is a superpower capable of changing the world! And these kids are quite literally our heroes!
Deciding a future in an uncertain world
Today is World Down Syndrome Day. The theme for this year’s awareness campaign is “We decide”.
As we walk this path that is our life as parents of a child with Down Syndrome, and as we continue to see inclusion in action we are ever more confident that Zigi will be able to decide his own way in the world.
Yet as I type, this world as we know it is uncertain and a bit scary as we all grapple with COVID-19 and what that will mean for our lives. It is early days here in Australia. We will all have to find a way through this together – even if we have to start living our lives apart for a while.
The only thing that IS certain is that our friendships and our community will be key to each one of us surviving and then thriving again.
Better together (even when apart)
Poor Alex’s parents had to make the tough decision to cancel Alex’s birthday party because of the new measures announced by our government this week and as we all try to do our bit to “flatten the curve” with social distancing.
Alex and Zigi are classmates, so they have spent the week together at their school. They are spending today together because we reached out to see if a play-date between these buddies could soften the blow a little for Alex.
You see this thing called inclusion is a two way street. It’s about Alex being a friend to Zigi AND Zigi being a friend to Alex. Inclusion IS friendship in its purest form. Alex and Zigi have become best buddies and we hope friends for life. Whether they continue to see each other at school or through i-pad screens I have no doubt they will be there for each other.
Happy World Down Syndrome Day 2020
So as we wish you all a Happy World Down Syndrome Day from Down Under – let’s never forget to celebrate all that is good about community and friendships. Whatever may come – we will make it through better together!