Lia and Theo from the United Kingdom
Hello!! My name is Theo, and I’m brother to 13-year-old Lia, who has Down’s syndrome.
Lia is a crazy burst of joy in my life. From her Nutella moustaches to silly WhatsApp messages, to her seriously powerful ability to turn me inside out in a tickle fight, I love it all.
It’s quite hard to describe in words really but she is someone who I really could not live without. We have an absolute blast together; we can sometimes just look at each other and start laughing for no real reason.
Lia is a very friendly, driven, and talented girl. Whether it’s horse riding, swimming, acting, or dancing, she won’t let her disability stop her. She works hard every day to get better at the things she loves, and her results pay off. Lia is doing a total of 3 performances this year in dancing and acting, in all of which she is pretty much the only one there with a disability.
Last year, Lia started at a mainstream secondary school. Being the only girl with Down’s syndrome in the whole school is obviously quite intimidating, but Lia won’t let it bother her. She has so many amazing friends and teachers, with a brilliant 1-to-1 who helps her with work.
Lia is not out of place by any means at school; she gives work and sports her all even going to early morning fitness classes! Lia walks into school with pride and cheerfulness every day, carrying her many bags and lunchbox which always have the same contents: a cheese sandwich, a honey sandwich, a smoothie, a yoghurt and a chocolate bar, just the way she likes it. Mum forgot the chocolate bar one day, and she still hasn’t heard the last of it….
I am so unbelievably proud to be Lias’s brother; I can’t even explain it. She is incredibly empathic and recognises when anyone is feeling down and tries to help. In a research project I did about a year ago I discovered that people with Down’s syndrome are great at detecting emotions in other people.
Lia is one of my biggest inspirations. She is living proof that when you set your mind to things you can achieve them, even if you are against the odds. We have shared so many special moments together, and I cherish them all equally. I personally have been having some struggles with my mental health recently, and Lia is someone who has always been here for me. She reminds me of what’s truly important; family. We have such a great relationship in that we are both able to lift each other up when we need to. That’s what family is for. And I couldn’t be more grateful for her.
The question we are asking this World Down’s syndrome day is what does inclusion mean? Well, to me, inclusion means the ability to share moments and experiences with people completely without judgement or prejudice. I find that once you eliminate any form of judgement about someone you can truly experience just how special each and every one of us is. It means you can really see someone for who they are rather than putting a label on someone without even trying to see beneath.
Lia has taught me an incredible amount of things throughout her life. The value of inclusion is probably at the forefront of these things. I’ve learned a real level of understanding and empathy, together with patience. She inspired me to study sciences, and research more into Down’s syndrome and understand the fascinating story behind it. She shows me daily that you can do things in the face of adversity; not only that but you can do it with a smile across your face and a devilishly cheeky giggle.
Because of Lia, I have been lucky enough to get involved with local charity 21&Co, supporting families with children with Down’s syndrome, which has been incredibly rewarding. I can’t wait for the many more experiences, laughs and Nutella toasts Lia and I share in the time to come!
I love you chicken pickle (my nickname for Lia)
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