Down syndrome changed me……… and I could not be more thankful.
November 2012, GiGi’s Playhouse Syracuse had been open just a few days when a friend mentioned it. You see at this time I had been following some wonderful blogs written by moms who had kids with Down syndrome, the only thing I knew about Down syndrome was that I wanted to know more, I wanted to understand. I wanted to be more than a blog follower. I had been trying to find a way to give back to my community, I had a camera and hoped I would be accepted, hoped some pictures would be helpful. I was invited to come to Open Play. Oh goodness I was so nervous! Would I say the wrong thing, would people think I was being patronizing? I was the outsider here, I was the one who didn’t belong. I put on a big fake smile and walked in, that fake smile quickly melted away, replaced by a smile that went much deeper than my face. I could feel the good here. Little friends welcomed me to play and gave hugs that would melt the coldest of hearts. I listened as parents spoke of the struggles and accomplishments, saw how this community was so good at building each other up, offering support and celebrating victories. I was drawn in and accepted. I was allowed to ask questions but most importantly in those first few months I learned that #morealikethandifferent is not just a catch phrase, it is 100% truth. Life is life. Messy, hard, fabulous, joyful….. what we choose to make of it. Down syndrome did not change that truth. Sure there may some different twists in the road but really when we finally accept that different does not equal bad the stuff of life becomes bearable.
As time went on, I made real friends, friends that encourage me and remind me to never give up! Friends who are my teachers.
I look back at the me from a little over four years ago and I can not imagine ever ever being that person again. Down syndrome changed me. It gave me a way to look at this world and see more. See what we are capable of when we are accepting to those around us, when we see people, not difference.
I can easily say signing up to volunteer at GiGi’s Playhouse was one of the best decisions of my life, I have been given more than I can ever give. I strongly encourage you to check out your local GiGi’s Playhouse and see how you can join in! I knew nothing, but the teachers are some of the best you will ever have. Don’t miss this.