fbpx
Down Syndrome International
0044 (0) 1395 493108

Stories

The best way to promote awareness of Down syndrome is for people with Down syndrome to share their own stories in their own words.

If you have a story that you would like to share with the world, please click on the “Share your story” button below.

SHARE YOUR STORY
UNITED KINGDOM

Hiddah

“For World Down Syndrome Day I tasked myself to spread awareness for my daughter Hiddah. Small steps at a time, I started with her class, I wanted the students in her class to be more caring and helpful and to understand why special children act in a certain way, or the challenges they face.
Pupils were encouraged to wear their #LotOfSocks to support diversity. They coloured and designed their own odd socks and made their own DIY badge for Down syndrome.
Teachers discussed facts about children with Down Syndrome, and how they are special.
Most importantly the activities were to get everyone talking about Down syndrome – that’s at least 30 families who will know more about Down Syndrome.”

PHILIPPINES

Percival

“Hi, my name is Percival. I am 23 years old and I’m from the Philippines. I love to listen to all kinds of music because music makes me happy. I always love to play with my niece Bella and my dog “Mikay.” This picture shows me and Bella riding a bike with Mikay. I also dance with Bella when I listen to music. I eat all kinds of food but my favorite is chicken. I have a big family and I love them all. They love me too which is why I feel lucky and blessed to have them.”

NEW ZEALAND

Luka

“Hi. My name is Luka. I am 18 and I like to try new adventures. I find it exciting. New Zealand is a great country for outdoor sports. Someone said have a go at Blokarting. So I did. Take a look at what happened. It was so much fun. I can’t wait to do it again especially if the wind is blowing even harder.”
Watch my video on my YouTube Channel – Luka Willems

Blokarting
INDIA

Reansh

“Hi! I am Reansh Sarup from India.
I love music, books, flashcards and spending time at the beach! 😊
I am determined to add joy to your lives, change perceptions and help create the right perspective for individuals with Down syndrome.”

TOGO

Edoh

“Edoh is 30 years old and lives in Soviépé in Lomé, Togo.
Edoh is our pride today after being abandoned by members of the community.
Following an awareness campaign led by APAPE-DSt Togo we have regained hope and with their support put Edoh at the Soviépé Public Primary School and afterwards in an apprenticeship in sheet metal work.
Edoh helps his boss a lot and people are interested in him now. He became everyone’s friend through his comedy, dances and amusements.”

UNITED STATES

Hans

“This story is about Hans Olson, our son, who is eight years old. Hansie is an incredibly active and loving boy. He loves to jump on his trampoline, play with Eko, the family German shorthair, dig in the sand on the beach where we live, build tall structures with wooden blocks, and maneuver toy cars and trucks all over the house. He also loves to play many musical instruments, often two at a time, and loves to dance to “Step In Time” from the Mary Poppins Original Sound track, which is of course his favorite movie of all time. He has lots of things to be proud of, but his ability to snow ski, which he started learning at three years of age, is definitely one of them. His biggest challenge is the articulation of words, but lately he is pronouncing more new words every day!”

UNITED STATES

Carmen

“Our beautiful 6 year old Carmen is our wonderful gift from God. We knew that Carmen would have Down syndrome through genetic testing. My husband and I were newlyweds and we now had to get a nursery ready! At 44 (me) and 50 (him), we knew the chances to conceive were slim. God’s plan was pure and wonderful! When we had Carmen in our arms for the first time we understood the immense love God has for us.
We are most proud that Carmen is a loving human being to everyone she meets. She loves her Catholic faith, the ocean, and traveling.
We are blessed that we were able to give Carmen the experience of a road trip to Montana before the pandemic. We visited Glacier National Park with our our extended family from California and Florida. She hiked, kayaked, and bonded with her cousins.
As a family we thoroughly enjoy this life that God has graced us with our Carmen. We are proud that Carmen has thrived during this pandemic. She has learned a lot of prayers as she has a great memory, enjoys reading, and loves to dance. We want others to understand that she must have the exact same level of acceptance as anyone in the world. Looking forward to traveling in the near future to visit our family again!”

NEPAL

Yashaswi

Yashaswi is 17 years old. She is lively and the star of her family. She lives in Bhaktapur, Nepal. Her mother and her family has been actively supporting her in every activity. The extra chromosome in the 21st chromosome had taught us, her family and people around her to be extra patient, understanding, loving.
Yashaswi started at mainstream school but the school authority said that they were unable to take care of her education and that her behavior is not normal. They referred her to special school. I think sending her to special school was the best decision for her and us. We could see improvements through our eyes. With speech therapy she was able to speak clearly and we could understand and communicate with her effectively. She soon began to interact with us. But the drive to school was very far. She had to travel 3 hours just to go school. She used to love going to school. She loves learning new things. But the school was really expensive and soon her family was unable to afford it.
During lockdown Yashaswi spent her time cooking and we came to know she loves cooking. Her foods are way tastier, even I could not cook like her. Especially, she loves baking. She also loves teaching. She has many small cousins and we feel proud of her when we saw her teaching them their homework. And she is always in cloud nine when she teaches them. Seeing how much she is capable, we wanted her to learn more skills so that she could be independent and earn money and take care of herself in the future.
We started looking for organizations that would teach life skills for people like our Yashwasi. But all efforts were in vain. We are still trying our best to find some organizations near to our hometown. We still have hope. As the saying goes,” Where there is will, there is way”. If we are unable to find, we are thinking of initiating our own organization to benefit Yeshu and other people with Down syndorme that would provide them employment make them independent.

UNITED STATES

Lily Lucia

“My beautiful daughter is thirteen years old and was born on December 19, 2007. Lily was born in San Diego, California and we brought her home on Christmas Eve. Like many kids with Down syndrome, she was born with a hole in her heart, but the amazing doctors at Children’s Hospital repaired her heart at six months old and then she began to thrive. I am proud of Lily because in January 2020, she flew half-way around the world to travel to her ancestor’s home in Italy. Our family traveled from the north of Italy in Liguria (where you can sample the best focaccia bread in the world) to the deep south of Puglia (where you can swim in the most beautiful beaches) for eight months. Lily said prayers for her family in the churches of Assisi, she fell in love with the art of Florence, and daily ate gelato all around Rome. While in Pompeii, she walked on ancient stepping stones, she enjoyed delicious desserts on the Amalfi Coast, and swam in the beaches of Puglia. Throughout our travels, Lily was challenged by the lack in daily routine and high-anxiety that made her nervous about trying new things, but Lily persevered and saw more of Italy during the pandemic than any other thirteen year old in the world. We love you Lily Lucia Garrett!”

GERMANY

Katharina

“My musical partner in the project dramulettO is Katharina Reichelt. She has Down syndrome and plays the cello as a performing artist. She also works with a clown therapist in a hospital in Saarbrücken. Together, we performed classical and modern music at various events all around Germany, like in Berlin, Munich, Düsseldorf, Bremen, Ludwigsburg and many other cities. We had the great honor to perform in the presence of the current President of Germany, F. W. Steinmeier, and the Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, among many other supporters of inclusion.
Here we show our performance for the ArtSocial21.”

UNITED STATES

Chloe

“This is about my 4 year daughter Chloe. Chloe is someone who enjoys learning, dancing, and meeting new people. She is Beautiful and Amazing! We are most proud of Chloe is her ability to adjust to new environments. Our biggest challenge is keeping her on track with her learning.”

UNITED KINGDOM

Kirstie

“This is my beautiful daughter Kirstie.
Before being born I was once told “she will bring you nothing but trouble” . What chance did she have in this world with people against her before being born?
They were wrong. She has a voice, her family have a voice and I her Mum has a voice and I can honestly say the joy, love and determination she brought into our lives far outweighed any little trouble there was.
In the 14 years of joy she has had health obstacles that she has hurdled over. These are the only troubles she has had in life and she has overcome all of them. Kirstie is a brave young lady who is strong and talented and has many people who love her for just being her. She is a wonderful daughter, a wonderful sister, a wonderful granddaughter, a wonderful niece, a wonderful cousin, a wonderful student and a wonderful friend.
She is a singer, a dancer, an artist, a gymnast, a comedian, a prankster and has many more talents she surprises us with. Most of all she has taught all of us patience, kindness, love, determination and understanding and continues to do so each day.
So to the persons who told me at the start she will bring you nothing but trouble I say “Kirstie brought no trouble at all, the only trouble was those uneducated people standing in her way!
Kirstie makes our world so much brighter.”

MYANMAR

Kin

“Hello all. I’m a mother of two daughters. My elder daughter has Down syndrome; her name is Kin Naychi Khin and she is nearly 18 years old. When she was born, in Myanmar there was no awareness of Down syndrome. In those days every single day was challenging for me and my husband. I was so worried about her future. Luckily my Uncle bring a news letter from DSA of UK and I had a chance to visit them when my daughter was 4 years old. I brought a lot of books and some teaching aids to my country and I started to train her. In 2015 I formed Myanmar Down Syndrome association (MDSA) with 15 active parents and we celebrated the first World Down Syndrome Day in Myanmar. I was still struggling for my daughter’s future and career. I would like to share with all family of people with Down syndrome all over the world “Where there’s is a will, there’s a way” Thanks.”

BRAZIL

Lisabeth for her son

“When my son was born in 1985, everything was so scary, for us mothers, we didn’t have textbooks, we didn’t have internet, and people  with Down syndrome were called “Mongoloids”. Our references were adults locked in the house, who attended Apae and Special Schools. They were people who were not part of society, they did not enjoy public spaces, they had no rights, they were invisible.
Today we know Down syndrome widely! Their limitations, illnesses and we learned how to develop possible skills within the characteristics of each one … because they are all different from each other.
All this journey of the person with T21 of stimulation, school, leisure, work, adult life, decision making and aging, painful for some victorious for others, today allowed visibility of people previously segregated by their own families and by society.
The reports, magazine covers, among other materials give information to a society that are unaware of the possibilities, they may exterminate stereotypes.
The purpose is for no one to be surprised by people with T21 at the supermarket checkout counter, at the Drugstores, at the Beauty Salons, at the reception of the hotels that, coincidentally, we have many working in all these mentioned sectors. And in so many others such as: laboratories, offices, companies, shopping malls, restaurants, clubs, equestrian, hospitals ..etc
It is to be respected on the bus, in the subway on the plane that many use, as a means of transportation. Until one day in fact we will no longer need to be here talking about our children with T21. That one day not too distant this conversation no longer needs to exist, that it is part of the common everyday life of everyone.”

INDIA

Rishima

It is a usual Sunday morning for Rishima. Waking up at 7 am, she gets ready for a workout session on a treadmill at her home. She is fitness conscious and follows a strict diet to keep her hypothyroidism in control. Later she sits down for an online piano session which she enjoys thoroughly. Covid has restricted her outdoor activities but she has found other avenues to keep herself busy through the day, be it helping her parents in household work or playing board games with her younger brother. She has gainfully used the lockdown period to improve her computer skills, learning to even make PowerPoint presentations.
Rishima was diagnosed with Down syndrome one week after her birth. Her parents put her in Study Hall’s Dosti school for special children at the age of three. Initially it was difficult for her to adjust in a new setting. But very soon she started taking keen interest in learning new things, be it learning to read and write or drawing and craft. Her teachers in Dosti realized her potential in academics. They provided her all the support to develop her academic abilities.
In her third academic session, she was slowly integrated into a mainstream class to test her ability to cope in a structured situation. Rishima coped well. She became more confident and adjusted well in a normal classroom setting. In Class I, she was fully integrated in the mainstream school.
With the support from her teachers and class mates, she was able to cope well with the curriculum and progressed well. She follows the lessons well, and independently writes all class work. She takes part in extracurricular activities and participates enthusiastically in the school’s sports day and annual day functions.
She is an avid reader. Even when she cannot go to a library during the current times, she makes sure to read a variety of books while being at home. She has a beautiful handwriting, both in English and Hindi. Her handwriting can be easily mistaken for a child with no disability.
As the school shifted to online classes during the pandemic, Rishima did well to become familiar with and adapt to online classes. Every morning she used to log into MS Teams, without any assistance, and attend her classes. She has always been a diligent student, so she made sure not to miss any of her classes even during the online teaching phase. Like any Gen Z child, her digital skills are exceptionally good, be it searching for an academic topic on Google or making notes, or listening to YouTube channels.
When she is not busy with her studies, she likes to write short stories. Her ability to express her thoughts is very promising and her parents are providing her all support to develop this skill. Rishima is very fond of music and is learning to play piano. She has performed on stage both in her school as well on other social events. She was also learning Kung Fu – a form of martial art, but that stopped when Covid struck.
Her will power and determination is very strong. She works extremely hard to learn new things and does not give up so easily. Her younger brother has been her closest friend, mentor, and guide. She is the happiest in his company. Her younger brother has played a key role in her growth and making her independent as she is now.
Rishima is currently in Class 9. She will soon turn 16 and aims to become a teacher someday. We hope that she continues to excel well in all that she does in life and is able to lead a respectable, independent, and meaningful life.

JAPAN

Akira

“My name is Akira Ozaki. I am working at the Prince Hotel in Hiroshima.
I went to Scotland to participate in the World Syndrome Congress in Glasgow. I made a speech in front of the people from many places in the world. I wrote my speech script with Fujiyama who helped me to make a speech in English. I practiced it many times. I was nervous. But when I started to speak, I felt very relaxed. I think I made a good speech. I became confident after the speech. There are many interesting and exciting things we, Japanese, don’t know. I want to visit many places in the world. I want to learn speaking English.”

MADAGASCAR

Hafaliana

“I am Hafaliana, I am 16 years old. I am from Madagascar but I live in the United Kingdom. I do not speak my mother tongue language as I had to learn everything in English when I moved to the UK when I was 3 years old, and I use it since then to communicate.
However my mum said it is very important that I learn our National Anthem. As I was not able to sing it properly, I found another way to show my respect to my country on our Independence Days: I play it on my baritone. Yes I do play baritone and am waiting since last year for my audition to be part of the National Youth Opera, it was unfortunately delayed because of COVID-19. 
I love performing, singing, dancing (I do both ballet and modern dance), acting … name it all. Drama is my dream job as it will enable me to combine all my favourite activities in one. If I am very good at acting, going to a proper drama college would be however challenging for me, I would need support.
Few years ago, someone in the neighbourhood told my mum that some parents do not allow their children to play with me in fear of “catching my disease”…. I would like to teach people that having Down syndrome is a condition, not a disease, so you cannot “catch” it. The only thing you may catch from me, and I really wish for many people to catch it (one of my teachers said it is very contagious) is my good mood, my kindness and my happiness. After all, that’s my name! “Hafaliana” is a Malagasy word meaning happiness.”

INDONESIA

Rafa

“My son is Rafa. He is able to dance, ride a bicycle and he is an amazing dalang (puppeteer).”

You can watch Rafa in action in his wayang video on YouTube here:

Wayang
CANADA

Kaylee

My name is Kaylee Rose, I live in Grande Prairie Alberta. I am a grade 12 student, excited to graduate this year. Before COVID, I was training for the Special Olympics in Rhythmic Gymnastics and working as a weekend receptionist at a vehicle dealership. I have applied to take part in the inclusive program for Drama at our local college in the fall. I am just waiting to hear back about wether they will have a spot for me for 2021, or if I’ll have to wait another year. My dream job would be to model or act, I really enjoy both.

TOGO

Adjovi

“Aged 28, Adjovi is our eldest daughter. She was born with Down’s syndrome, which shocked us. The whole family and people in the community looked at us differently. With the support of the Association of Parents and Friends of People with Encephalopathy (APAPE) – Down Sydrome Togo, we have taken up ESPOIR in the future.
Today Adjovi is our pride in everything she does for us and for the community as a whole. Adjovi helps her mother sell the bottles and other utensils at the Adidogomé market, a village on the outskirts of the capital Lomé.
As we say, disability is not inevitable, but parents need to be supported in psychological matters, in rehabilitation and others in order to improve the capacity of children with Down’s syndrome. She participates in all sports activities, excursions, celebration, etc. 
Adjovi’s case is more than a dream for us, so we should not neglect our children with Down’s syndrome.
Thank you very much to APAPE-Down Sydrome Togo for the work they do every day with us for the inclusion of our children with Down’s syndrome.”

SAUDI ARABIA

Sarah

“Sarah is 16 years old sweet girl with Down Syndrome from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia . Sarah is an awareness ambassador who is participating in Down Syndrome Awareness projects through online channels (@SARAH_R_ALS on Instagram) . Sarah also loves playing on piano and enjoying learing new songs to play everytime. She won in a national awards called “Raiah : the Saudi responsible Woman” for being a leader in a project focusing on Teaching Children with Down Syndrome
This is a short letter about Sarah , who is the sunshine of our lives – as a family!”

INDIA

Rashmi

“I am Rashmi Rekha Sahu aged 37 with Down syndrome from Bhubaneswar Odisha India. I am a classical oddise dancer. I love myself, my family, love music. I love my friends like me. I am working with slum area. I give my best for form of Down syndrome group. I am a president Awardee. I am very interested to network with Down syndrome field. I am a lovely, sweet, proud daughter of my parents. My parents give me support to grow my every step. My best friend is my lovely mother.
From the childhood, my every day life became stories. I thank you and your group I am the part of this world Down syndrome group. It is my pleasure.”

PAKISTAN

Sheza

“Sheza is 6 years old. She is the most precious gift from God. She loves us very purely without any conditions. She is small right now but very dedicative towards her respective task. She loves music and she has a dreamer’s soul. She is a regular participant in the story telling and music and movement classes. She is displaying extraordinary progress, She interacts with the instructors and does all the activities independently. She is accompanied by her favourite toy during the classes and enthusiastically engages with all her instructors, often bringing her own choreography in to the mix. Sheza also confidently teaches her dance moves to other participants during the music and movement class. As one of the youngest in her classes, her teacher expresses their delight in having her there, describing her as a ray of sunshine. I am proud to be her mother.”

INDONESIA

Syauqi

“I am a mother with four chidren. My passion is in education. Syauqi is my only son in my family. He is 11 years old this April. He has three sisters. When I first learned that he was a person with Down syndrome, it broke my heart. But I didn’t give up. I learned how to educate children with Down syndrome. I never took him to go to therapy because of the bad economic situation when he was a child.
I taught him myself at home, assisted by his three older siblings. I am grateful that he can grow well even though he has a congenital heart disease.
Alhamdulillah, to this day he is healthy and has very good growth and development.
When he was 7 years old, in 2017 I took the initiative to establish a parent school for children with special needs. The participants are many and I am happy because many parents are aware to educate their children with special needs.
In 2018 I founded a school for children with Down syndrome. I am grateful that by having Syauqi with Down syndrome, I can give goodness to other parents who have Down syndrome children.
I hope that one day Syauqi and his friends with Down Syndrome will become independent and useful people both for themselves and for others.
This Down syndrome special school is located in the city of Surabaya. This school becomes an inspiration for many people and also the government, namely the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture. In 2021, this Down syndrome school will become a pilot for 20 kindergartens that have students with special needs (inclusive schools) in Surabaya and Bangkalan, Madura.
Thank you so much my beloved son, Syauqi, for being the teacher of life for your mother. And thank you for being an inspiration to many people including young teachers who are willing to fight in the Down syndrome school.”

INDIA

Saransh

“Saransh is my younger brother and my family’s greatest blessing. He makes us a better, kinder person each day. Whenever we look at him, it warms our heart. He has inspired my life in a paramount way and has given me a vision, each day I dream and work towards creating a more inclusive world for the differently abled.
Saransh is a very creative person, he loves dancing and music. He plays tabla and harmonica. He also uses his imagination to write one essay each day based on his daily life. For example, we recently gifted him two rabbits, who are named Suhani and Roshni, he takes care of them and wrote an essay on them based on his experiences. He is very disciplined.
He is a very lovable and huggable person and my friends and teachers love him. He has come to my college many times and performed dance and plays, same way we keep visiting his school to meet and play with him and his friends.”

INDONESIA

Bakhita and Fayez

I have two children with Down syndrome, the first is Bakhita and the second is Fayez. They really like photo or street fashion. Since the age of 2 they have won many photogenic competitions at the Childrenscretivity agency.

INDIA

Anita

“I am Anita Menon, a model and an artist from Kerala, India. I love dancing and listening to music. I was bought up in Dubai.
During my school days I have worked in various companies / Organization such as Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC), Rotana Hotel, The One and Dubai Police Academy as a trainee in their Reception and HR Department helping regular staff in those companies.
After moving to Pune, India in July 2016, I worked as an assistant teacher in the pre-school.
My Artwork was featured in the 2020 Calendar of Nayi Disha. I have conducted workshops for kids in Kite Making, I was selected for Deep Down; A Global Art Exhibition for individuals with Down syndrom. Out of 400 entries, world wide, 100 had been selected mine being one
of them.
I am a brand model, for a clothing line named “Hasthkari”, which was very well received and appreciated. I have featured in magazines and calendars. I have walked the ramp for Kids fashion week by Chasa at Phoenix mall, Pune, India. I also walked the ramp and did live painting in front of over 2500 strong audience of IIBM Fest, Navi Mumbai, India.”

SINGAPORE

Daniel

“I found out that Daniel might have Down Syndrome during the first trimester of my pregnancy. I was terrified and fearful, and my biggest struggle then was that I didn’t know if I can love a child with Down Syndrome. Fast forward three years later, my heart is bursting with love whenever I see Daniel. Everything about him sparks joy – his smile, his twinkling almond shaped eyes, and his endearing personality. Daniel is such a sweet natured boy and he has strong empathy for other people even at a young age – he will be the first to bring a tissue paper to the friend crying in class. I don’t know what the future holds for Daniel, but I know that the sky is the limit for him and my role as a mother is to keep advocating for an inclusive world where people like Daniel are accepted and loved.”

INDONESIA

Khanza

“Hi, my name is M. Khanza Sangaziah. I’m from Indonesia and I live in Tangerang. I was 9 in the third grade.
My hobbies are sports, photos and dancing. As long as my pursuit of therapy and the acquisition of my talents. By participating in an online photo and video contest.
Mama says I’m a teacher who always teaches patience and sincerity and can keep people around me happy.
I hope that in the future i can hone my talents in sports and become an athlete.”

PHILIPPINES

Angela

“Soon after Angela was born, we received an invitation to be part of the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines (DSAPI). Growing up, the DSAPI played a critical role in Angela’s development. Today, she is also an active member of Best Buddies Philippines, another support group that promotes friendship among adults with disability and those without.
Angela was motivated to learn and went to school just like any other kid. In 2019, she graduated from a Transition Education and Life Skills program. She was accepted in 2 apprenticeship programs and before graduating, was hired by a company who believes in giving equal opportunities to people with disabilities.
She has been working since 2018 but at the start of the Covid pandemic, she had to stop. Today, she is preoccupied with learning new skills, like cooking, playing the piano, and sign language. She works out daily and takes her Herbalife shake to promote a healthy and active lifestyle.
She is a PWD advocate for Project Inclusion and an ambassador for Best Buddies Philippines. These have been a great learning experiences not just for her but for me, as well.
Angela’s presence in our life brought so much joy and blessing. She taught us to be patient and compassionate. She showed us that through acceptance, life is more beautiful. Most of all, she made us realize that we had an amazing capacity to love.
Life is beautiful because of a gift called, ANGELA.” – Angela’s mum

SWEDEN/IRAQ

Jafaar

“My name is Jaafar, we live in Sweden and our root from Iraq.
I am studying in high school now.
I am very proud of my chromosome that’s why I am self advocate. Me and my family are raising awareness through our facebook page “@ProudofmyChromosome” with more than 5000 followers. We share hope through our experience to show the world who are the people with Down syndrome and what can they do.
My biggest challenge when I fighted the leukemia (blood cancer). It was tough time but we passed it.
We should live for today and don’t be worried about the future. Stop Missing Out On The Present Because You’re Looking To The Future.”

INDONESIA

Rei

I am a housewife with 2 children, living in Bekasi, West Java, Indonesia. Our second child, a girl born with Down syndrome, is “Rei” aged 13 years. I don’t want to expect too much with her condition, our focus is to make her independent, especially to develop herself. Rei is a cheerful, kind and caring child.
In the family, Rei is always a consolation, there is never a burden in her, she always makes us laugh with her cute behavior.
Rei is the sun & rainbow in our family life.
Even though Rei was late in academics but she was quite good in non-academic fields. Her hobbies are dancing, modeling photos, swimming & gymnastics. I always take her to school & do her hobby activities. I also often participate in dancing competitions, photo contests and swimming. I did this to make her more confident that she could do it.
Many people with Down syndrome in the world are high achievers. Our hope is, that one day Rei can also make achievements through one of her hobbies.
Hopefully one day the whole world will no longer underestimate people with Down syndrome. Give them the opportunity to develop and advance, support them to be able to realize all their dreams according to their abilities in their respective fields.


“Look at their abilities, never see their disability”
“They exist, they can”

UNITED STATES

Sujeet

Sujeet is is a self-advocate, a Musician & Motivational Speaker. Since age of 14 Sujeet has paved many new roads in the world of disability and has become a role model.
At age 39, Sujeet currently holds a job in Western New York as an inspirational entertainer for over 60 Retired community & Senior residents in nursing homes, as well he provides instrumental entertainer for annual events, fundraisers, and disability awareness events.
Since age of 20, Sujeet has been living independent life in the community like any other proud citizen spreading his Mission word “Yes, I Can” and “Make It Happen” raising the bar for differently challenged individuals.

AUSTRALIA

Sophie

Sophie is a sassy 16 year old who lives and loves life to the full. She loves to sing, dance, act and perform. She loves unconditionally and brings joy to all she meets. Sophie is also an Ambassador for Celebrate T21 Australia. She has changed our lives for the better.
Each year to coincide with World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) I create my “Celebrating Sophie” video.
Please take the time to share my video far and wide to spread awareness of Down syndrome and World Down Syndrome Day.

IRAN/TURKEY

Jassim

Jassim is 32-years-old. He was born in Iran and has been a refugee in Turkey for six years. We are awaiting resettlement in another country. In the meantime Jassim has no access to education, training, or medical care.
The warm weather has caused psoriasis and made life harder for Jassim than ever. He does not sleep at night, he cannot speak and cannot express his pain.
Jassem loves music very much, and he is very interested in dancing, but since we took refuge in Turkey, Jassem has become depressed and does not move.
We wish that someone could hear Jassim’s voice.

URUGUAY

Morena

“My name is Morena, I am 9 years old, I live in Colonia, Uruguay. I am in the 5th year of primary school – adapted – in a private school. I also go to theater classes, I love music, dance, I am about to start Pilates classes, and I also go to equine therapy. I love being a model and acting, my parents say that I am an artist by nature. Sometimes I get angry and sad when my classmates call me donkey or ugly. Mom always teaches me that nothing and no one can hurt me if I love myself, if I value myself, and that we are the reflection of others. I love talking to everyone, they say I’m talkative.”

CANADA

Allison

“I absolutely love my friends and family. I had a job but with Covid I lost it. I listen to all kinds of music, I love doing word search, majong and sudoku. I love to sing and dance and have friends over to watch movies, play games or just hang out. Peace out Everyone.”

PAKISTAN

Syeda

“I am 20 years old and I live in Karachi, Pakistan. I like to describe myself as an Abstract Expressionist, an Artist, Social Entrepreneur, Disability Right Activist, Social Inclusion Advocate & Francophone. I believe that: “no disability can stop you if you have the determination to challenge your potential” and that is why against all odds I draw, busting the myths that individuals with Down syndrome have no space in society. I am Syeda Alishba Amin-ud-Din, an artist with Down syndrome which has never been able to curb my flight and keep me down. I can speak English, French, Urdu & German language. I am running my own digital art studio syedaalishba.com I am creating awareness regarding inclusion, challenges of girls with unique abilities and other social issues through my art.”

NORTHERN IRELAND

Benjamin

Benjamin Thompson is 21 years old and a member of The Foyle Down Syndrome Trust in Northern Ireland. He is a role model, friend and real source of support for other young people with Down Syndrome at FDST. He attended main stream primary school and secondary college and he enjoyed meeting his head master every Monday morning to discuss the weekend football results, especially as he is a big fan of Arsenal FC and loves to see them win!
As well as keeping fit and active he enjoys cycling, canoeing swimming with the family at the weekends and also skies every winter in Europe.
Through work experience he works at one of the top-rated hotels in the UK and says “…I enjoy working at the hotel, especially saying hello to the customers when they arrive and serving the food and drinks to them”
This work ethic and determination means that Benjamin continues to break down barriers and look for new opportunities in everyday life. Recently he was awarded the Derry Journal Young Person of the Year Award for his work in helping other young adults with Down syndrome. Benjamin is an officer in the Boys Brigade and every year carries the flag in the annual church parade. He likes to help others and is keen to volunteer further.
Benjamin’s dream is to work as an assistant chef in a restaurant or hotel and also serve customers. He also wants to keep doing sports Benjamin knows that work and life skills are equally important and his is currently studying for a Diploma In hospitality and catering.
Benjamin wants the future to be full of cooking, sports and meeting people. He wants to live as independently as possible and sharing his great life with family and friends.

VENEZUELA

Isabella

Isabella Izquierdo is 20 years old and lives in Caracas, Venezuela. Since the day she was born, she has proven her endless determination to reach all her goals 💪🏼 , and last year she told us she wants to become a model!
Her condition was a surprise to everyone. The same day she was born she was diagnosed with a cardiopathy 💔 that required an emergency operation and a long recovery.
Also, she is an Olympic athlete champion! 🏆 She has represented Venezuela twice in the Special Olympics Word Games in gymnastics 🤸‍♀️ and has won more than 10 medals in international competitions🥇Besides her multiple stimulation therapies since she was a baby, she has been in different activities that have allowed her to integrate with regular kids like swimming, ballet, jazz, and tap 💃🏻
Her joyful and outgoing personality has given her a chance to record a TV commercial 📺 a movie trailer 🎥 fashion runways 💁🏻‍♀️ and most recently, participate in some campaigns for some clothes brands 👠
is a self-advocacy family project. It comes from the desire to show our society that people with Down syndrome can participate in their communities, work environment, education, sports, and why not in the fashion industry?

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Surya

Surya is 28 years old.
He loves outdoor activities, especially when it is related to the Down Syndrome Family Network.
When he was 18 years old, he started training in Taekwondo with Master Sankar. He embraced the feeling of inclusion there and worked very hard to attain his 1st degree Black Belt a few years later. Due to his natural outgoing character, Surya enjoys being an advocate for the greater awareness of the differently abled; their needs for proper education, health care and also employment.
Two years ago he got the opportunity to do an internship at the IMAX cinema through the Down Syndrome Family Network mentorship program. This opportunity has empowered him and given him the chance to develop his social skills, learn new things and feel a great sense of confidence and importance. He recently started an online reading class, which we hope will enable him to become a better vocal advocate for his rights as an equal citizen of Trinidad and Tobago.
Surya is a DSFN Youth Ambassador leading the way for others with Down syndrome.

JAPAN

Satoko

I was 35 years old when I gave a birth to my son. I didn’t have any prenatal test and I knew I might have a baby with disabilities. I talked to my husband that I might have a baby with Down syndrome, and I would be happy to have a baby with Down syndrome. We didn’t notice for two weeks after my son was born. My son had difficulty to drink milk and the doctor told me that my son might be a baby with disabilities. I was relieved when I knew he has Down syndrome and why he had difficulty to drink milk. I was happy to attend the meeting for the parents of the children with Down syndrome. I could have hope for his future. I hope someday we can say that having Down syndrome is one of the nice character.

UNITED STATES

Brittany

“When I was born, the doctors didn’t expect much of me. They diagnosed me with Down syndrome shortly after I arrived, and all the “she’ll never be able to do…” advice came after.
But I defied the doctor’s expectations because while they saw a diagnosis, my parents just saw their little girl. So as I grew up, I tumbled in gymnastics, rode on horseback, and swam through the pool for the Special Olympics. In high school, my life really thrived. I became a member of the school’s typical dance ensemble and walked the runway in my school’s fashion show twice (once on the arm of my principal!). I went to three proms. And I graduated high school.
I always thought I was destined for the stage—I loved to act and sing. I just never knew my stage would take the form of my own nonprofit. Today, I am the founder of Brittany’s Baskets of Hope, a 501(c)3 nonprofit on a mission to spread resources, hope, and love to families welcoming new babies with Down syndrome into their lives. To date, we’ve sent over 1,200 welcome baskets to families in every state.
I may not sing on stage for a living (not yet, at least!), but this platform has connected me to a whole community that reminds me of the power of following your calling and letting others know they’re not alone. As I always say, “People with Down syndrome can do anything—really, really anything.”

UGANDA

Nangabane

“This is me Nangabane 24 yrs Old. I live with both my parents although my Dad is in the village. My education level is senior six ( high school level). I currently do not have a job after I lost one a few months ago where I was working as a supervisor in a construction company. I have qualifications in computer management and hairdressing. When I completed Senior six, my desire was to go to university to graduate as a Doctor because I was doing well in science subjects. This did not happen because my parents could not manage to pay school feees for me to join university.
I didn’t know I had Down syndrome. On our way home from shopping, we met Mr Michael Okiro Emadit the Country Director. I was in the company of my Mum and he stopped us to talk to my Mum about my condition. He called us in his office where he discussed with my parents and explained to them that I have Down syndrome. He is the one who made me realise I had Down syndrome because even my parents were not aware that I had it. He educated my parents and showed me many pictures of children and adults who had similar signs of people with Down syndrome , including George Okudi. He advised my parents to continue paying school fees for my education By then I was eleven (11 ) years of age in primary six.
At first , my parents were hesitant to continue paying fees , but Mr Michael Okiro helped me out to confirm to them that I belong to the group and I can excel in academics like any other child. After completing senior six, I had a job as I mentioned earlier, but I was stopped because of health problems, I have Asthma and heart associated disease.
My mum is unable to support me because we are in hospital with her on and off. I am proud to be a Self Advocate and I am currently the vice chairperson of Down syndrome self Advocates group Central Uganda based in Kampala. I am also very proud because I show an example to others by doing things that people without disabilities cannot do.”

IRELAND

Olga

“My name is Olga, and I am nine years old. I live in Ireland with my mum, dad and two brothers.
I like dancing, singing and I am very good at jigsaws. I also like to help my mum with baking or cooking. My favourite movie is the Minions and Adams Familly.
I am in the fourth class, and I am also a Special Olympics member, where my favourite competition is running.
I can not wait to celebrate Down Syndrome Day 2021 with my family and friends. My mum always tells me I can achieve all my dreams. I just need a little bit more time and support to meet my goals. I am like other friends in my community, except I was born with an extra chromosome. I see the bright future ahead of me, having a fulfilment life in our society.”

INDIA

Manas

“Hi my name is Manas. I am an artist and a dancer. I also play tennis. I do yoga on zoom. I turned 21 this year.
I used to live in Chennai, now I am in Bangalore.
I live with my parents and go to my sister’s house for sleepovers often.
My favourite things to eat are Dal Makhni, Palak Paneer and mango ice cream.”

UNITED STATES

Viva

My name is Viva Selena Lopez, a July baby born in Eagle Pass, Texas, but now a proud resident of Palmview, Texas for decades. I’m known as a cheerful, stylish, and enthusiastic young woman who brings joy to everyone who is around me. I love to sing,dance,and make crafts. I love to cheer and started my journey in cheering in middle school. As I became a high schooler I tried out and made Varsity. I cheered in my High School for 7 years missing only 1 game. It was hard at first to be accepted into the cheer program. My Mom had to fight for my rights and now we have opened a door for our community. I graduated in 2017 and immediately joined the Capable Kids Foundation cheer team The Sparks.
I am currently employed by the Vipers as a Hip-Hop dancer with the Venom Hype Squad, this will be my 2nd year. Trying out for this Squad was exciting. I’m the first member in the squad with a disability. Another Big opportunity for our community.
I’m mostly proud of the inclusion and acceptance throughout my journey. I’m proud that I have a Mother that will always be my voice. My Mom will open doors where no one can open with her love and support and she believes in me.
My biggest challenge is realizing that I might not speak perfectly and its hard for others to understand me at times. Speech is my challenge and I’m working hard on it. For now my Mom is my voice.
I would like to tell the world… Please don’t look at the disability…you might miss a person with the biggest heart and a person that can cure a broken heart with a simple hug.
I will never stop reaching for the brightest biggest stars. Hugs from Viva

AUSTRALIA

Elijah

Elijah (11) lives with his family, cats, and wallabies in Brisbane, Australia. Since Elijah became an official YouTuber back in 2019 with his show, Elijah and Crumpet, we could hardly have imagined how it would change Elijah’s life. Elijah and Crumpet have appeared on news articles, been on national television, met Hugh Jackman and more recently took part in John Krasinski’s ‘Some Good News’ YouTube success, being given the title of SGN Global Correspondents. Making YouTube videos has developed Elijah as he has to practise the subject matter, be that learning Japanese words (67 of them!), reading the script, remembering how to act or even just being patient with his co-host, Crumpet (Dad?), who often gets it wrong! He has always been outgoing, fun and confident, but this serves as a great outlet for these socially-valued qualities.
Social media has allowed people living with Down syndrome to share their positive experiences with others around the world, raising expectations and giving hope to those at the start of their journey (Elijah was non-verbal until the age of 4!). A great example of this was when Elijah went to his new school, he made a video introducing himself, which helped him settle in and broken down any barriers there may have been, as everyone knew his name and befriended this new YouTuber, while at the same time learning an important lesson about people with Down syndrome … respect them and value them like you would any other person.
Please come and support our work on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

PERU

Karin

Karin Liza’s struggle to be a full citizen begins in 2012 when she met the Sociedad Peruana de Síndrome Down (SPSD). So, she and her mother decide to ask the court of the Peruvian government to restore her legal capacity, after she has been declared as incapable. Karin’s triumph is achieved in October 2019 where she is recognized as an autonomous person with the right to make her own decisions and express her will. Actually, Karin works, supports her mother and is Self-Advocate of Sociedad Peruana de Síndrome Down.

ROMANIA

Oana 

Oana believes all differences are beautiful and dance offers something for everyone! Together we can make a difference.

INDONESIA

Vanessa

“Hi, my name is Vanessa Adelynn Christabelle and i am 4 years 10 months now. I am indonesian, and i live in Jakarta. During pandemic, i like to follow many activities such as kids photo modelling competition, kids fashion show, and others competition. I hope through this activities,makes me have the desire and talent so that one day I grow up to become a professional model.”

MAURITIUS

Mishka and Mandinee

“We are Mishka and Mandinee from Mauritius.
We are 24 years old and are members of the Youth with Disabilities Platform.
We love dressing up and are always following the latest trends. Our dream is to become stylists or models as we love fashion.
We often do photoshoots and are in the process of creating a professional portfolio soon.
We have been to mainstream schools when we were younger and are able to read, write and count. We wish to be independent professionally and start our own fashion industry in the future.”

INDONESIA

Faiz

“This is my son Faiz . He is 3 years old. He is so cute, polite, and humble. Faiz has Down syndrome. He makes our lives colourful. He likes acting , singing, dancing, and smiling. He is a miracle for us. He always finds a way to make people happy. His cheerfulness makes every tear gone.
As a mother I’m so proud with him. He has taught me a lot of things about love.
A lot of people in our country said that it’s imposible for people with Down syndrome to get a good life. But I DON’T BELIEVE IT.
I believe he is a good warrior. Strong, polite, creative and has a dream.. it’s our duty to make dreams come true.”

UNITED KINGDOM

Bashir

“My Name is Bashir. I am 26 years old. I have Mosaic Down syndrome and Autism. I was born in London. I was the first grand child in my family. Everyone loves me very much. My dads family is from Mauritius. I have been on holiday to Mauritius many times. I went to mainstream school. I enjoy Music , Dancing ,Drama, Art and travelling around and staying in nice hotels. In 2014 i went to Makkah in Saudi Arabia for Umrah. It was wonderful. However in 2009 I was bullied at school and this caused me to develop serious illness. My parents have been amazing because if it was not for them I could have ended up in an institution. I have been attending a lot of activities such as sport ,dancing and art activities. I have some wonderful support workers helping me.
The pandemic has changed a lot of things for me now. I cannot wait to go back to all my activities again. I consider myself to be like everyone else except I need a bit more help and understanding. I met Sujeet Desai and family when they came to London for a concert. He has been an inspiration for my family. My father run a parent support group in London call
Upsideofdowns. We organise lots of events to raise awareness about Down Syndrome and other contitions. I am looking forward for the next WDSD even though I know it will not be like before. But I will try to enjoy it and raise awareness. Lets Connect with each other. I hope the world become a better place for all of us after the pandemic. Lets follow the guidance and stay safe.”

CANADA

Rita

“My name is Rita. I love to do art and I have a book of my art being published in Fall 2021. My job is at Coffee Shed part of Common Ground Co-op, and I will go back after covid. I also go to the Dani-Toronto day program. I love to make birthday cards for people.”
See Rita’s Art Book

UGANDA

Okudi George

“I am Okudi George from Uganda aged 49. I went to a mixed school right from primary to secondary and college where I studied commerce. I am the DSi National representative of people with Down syndrome in Uganda. I was also recently appointed to the chairmanship of the board.
I am currently working with a cigarette distribution company as a personal assistant to the CEO of the company. I handle many tasks and even helping my workmates who are not intellectually disabled. I lead them in some activities, guide, direct and advise many in things which need my advice, so “disability is not inability”.
I learnt how to use a computer and I also drive very well. I am now living independently with my wife and child and managing life like any other person in the world.
My hobbies are making friends, reading newspapers, watching and playing football, driving and also learning.”

INDIA

Ashritha

“Hi, My name is Ashritha. I live with my parents in Mumbai, India.
At present I am a Trainee Team Member at “Cafe Arpan” helping adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities to work and live a meaningful life of dignity and worth.
I enjoy and am Happy to be a part of Cafe Arpan.
My dream of walking the ramp for fashion shows and becoming a model may become a reality soon. I am proud to be on board in the category model at A Typical Advantage Planet’s first talent platform for Disabled persons.
I have varied interests like dancing and creating awareness about Down syndrome in my community functions. I have participated three times in Tata Mumbai Marathon in the Champions With Disability segment.
My family and people around me are always supportive and guiding in all my dreams and aspirations .
Love to All.”

UNITED KINGDOM/MALTA

Angela and friends

Hi I’m Angela, I’m a 19-year-old teenager with Down syndrome. My mum is Sri Lankan and my dad is Italian and I have lived in UK and Italy before moving to Malta in 2013.
I spend most of my free time writing as it’s a form of relaxation for me. I have written and self-published four books. I also love acting and performing arts. I have just completed my Advanced Diploma in Performing Arts in a vocational institute in Malta. Before that I left school with 6 OLevels.”

Angela is an advocate for inclusion, especially in the performing arts. She developed this interest having done a three-week Erasmus+ placement at the Chickenshed Inclusive Theatre in London in 2019. She is part of Opening Doors Association Malta, where she is part of the theatre group and also writes a regular blog called “No Assumptions, Please” on their website​. Angela took part in some disability advocacy capacity development workshops organized by the Commonwealth Children and Youth Disability Network​, where one session was on using social media to promote inclusion. She loves to sing, so she had the idea of recording a YouTube cover for WDSD this year. Angela wanted to have a mix of teens with and without Down’s Syndrome in order to make it inclusive and show that everyone is equally “normal”. It’s truly Angela’s project, as she even paid for the video editor from royalties she received from Amazon from the sale of her published books.

INDIA

Avnish (Binney)

“I am proud to say that he is my son and the most special gift I have received from God. I feel blessed! When a single man adopts a child, it puts him way outside the societal norms. The world certainly looks at you differently, but even the way you look at yourself undergoes a drastic change. From being a bachelor to becoming a father – I suddenly found myself flipping roles after Binney’s arrival into my world. Being a father is definitely not easy, but what makes it special is to be a father to a child with Down syndrome. Thanks to my understanding and my supportive parents who have showered their grandson with loads of love and care, the symptoms have faded into the background. The love spell has worked its magic in just three months and I bet you couldn’t tell the difference between Binney and his “normal” friends if you met them. I want to believe that it would be the same as he grows up. But deep down I know and slightly fear that it won’t be so. Nevertheless, it is always better to accept the facts early on and prepare yourself well to deal with them. I have come to realise that Binney may start facing challenges from his early pre-school days. I am sure he would do great with music, art and activity learning, but he might struggle with the concepts of language, grammar, mathematics and the sciences. My vision for Binney is far from building his IQ. I’d simply rather hone his EQ. I want him to grow to know and witness the beauty of nature – the fluttering butterflies and buzzing bees around a bush of fragrant roses, the sound of a fresh-water stream, the whistling wind as it rushes through an army of tall trees, and the captivity of gazing at a starlit night sky. I wish for him to play with colours and to paint his life’s canvas with many bright ones. I want him to feel the healing touch of music and to know how each note brightens his mood. I wish he learns to dance, and dances like he doesn’t care about who is watching him. I want him to dream and believe and create for that is the real purpose of life. I wish for him to fly so high that he takes his thoughts farther than ever.
And I wish this for him and all children. I hope to show him the better side of the world and I hope he finds a community that supports the same.
Avnish will definitely grow to be normal but I’d still love him to be different and unique in his own ways. It would be a pride to see how he stands amongst many and yet shines the brightest. It is therefore not only my responsibility but also my honour to give him the best and more – always and forever.”

GHANA

Beatrice

“My name is Beatrice Baah, I am 34 years old and live with my parents and siblings. I am part of Robbfoundation, a non profit organisation that supports people with Down syndrome in Ghana. I started a vocational training in Hair Making this year to help me live independently and support myself financially.
Thanks to my family for the support they have been giving me. I love my new environment and hope to become a top hair dresser in the future.”

UNITED KINGDOM

Shari

“My name is Shari and I am 14 years old. I live in London with my parents – Richmond and Andrea.
During the lockdown my parents and I took lots of walks in the nearby park. There were not many people in the park but there were many ducks and swans in the pond and I love to watch them. It was pretty cold so I put my hands into my pockets and walked as fast as I could.
I miss school; I miss my teachers and my friends. I have to do my schoolwork at home. My mother and I play with the Pocket Learner cards. I like to look at the pictures and read the words. I sometimes go to see my friend Nic and sleep at her house. It is lots of fun and we dance and sing and make a cake. I love to eat cake. It is my favourite!
My teacher wants me to do a music video. I have to sing and dance. I didn’t go away on holidays but I’m having fun at home with mom and dad.”

INDONESIA

Faza

“Hi, I am M. Faza Aulia. I am ten years old. I come from Indonesia. I am third grade student of elementary school. In this pandemic condition, I participated in several online competitions, such as photo contest , fashion show and dance competitions. Besides that, I like to play the gamelan, a traditional Javanese musical instrument and wear traditional Javanese clothes called Surjan. I like Javanese culture because my parents come from Javanese Ethnic.”

PAKISTAN

Fatima

“Hi. My name is Fatima. I am 14 years old. I live in a backward village of Pakistan. Here there is no school or inclusive education but my mom helps me. I read in 4th grade class. Last year I got 3rd position in my normal school with normal children. So I feel proud. Lots of respect. Love you all.”

BERMUDA

Trudell

“My name is Trudell Edwards. I am 14yrs old. I live in Bermuda. I enjoy playing football and sailing. My dream is to someday get married and be able to work and be independent. I love to cook and swim also dressing up is also something I enjoy doing. Perhaps one day I will be able to work with dolphins as a trainer or be a chef. I know that i have to work hard at achieving my goals.”

UNITED KINGDOM

Abdullahi

“I wish people understood that Down syndrome, in and of itself, is not something that should cause sympathy. I am grateful for everything that extra chromosome has brought into our family. My hero son has Down syndrome he is 14yrs old, he can do everything a typical child does, it just takes him a little bit longer.
My son Abdullahi is a gift from GOD. He is pure, good-hearted, a hard worker, fun, smart, silly and loves the life he has been given. Get to know him and he will make a difference in your world.”

LEBANON

Charbel

Charbel is 26-year-old lebanese graduate of Valley International School – Lebanon.
Charbel is a member of the data processing team in a sanitary tools company. He is responsible for archiving bills, sending faxes and distributing internal mail.
Charbel participated in different TV shows to raise awareness of the importance of inclusion at school and at work. He encourages people to accept people with Down syndrome showing them that he is like any other person – he can work, play, have friends and love.
Charbel holds roles at different national and international organizations including representing the Lebanese Down Syndrome Association at Down Syndrome International. 
Charbel is a happy person. He spreads joy and love. Charbel loves music, dance and sports. He dances ballroom, swims, plays boxing and tennis. Riding his bicycle is his favorite activity.

UNITED KINGDOM

Joshua

“My son Joshua is 7 years old and has participated in the special Olympics in East London, he has obtained 3 medals. He is also a good organized boy, he likes dancing, soccer, and listening to the preaching of the church pastor. He is also considerate with others and has a giant smile, we are proud to have it.”

UNITED STATES

Andrew

“We were shocked to learn our newborn son was born with Down Syndrome and multiple congenital heart defects. We were shocked and very troubled. This time of anquish and perceived tragedy turned out to be one of our life’s greatest blessings.
Andrew was saved by the amazing medical team at Mott Children’s Hospital. The Mott team did not treat Andrew differently, and did everything possible to save his life. After his open heart surgery as an infant, the surgeon said “he’s fixed, have a great life”. Andrew has been healthy ever since. Andrew is now 33 and the light of our life. We have had a great life in part because our lives were blessed by him.
He is happy and makes us happy every day. He never complains. Despite his lack of academic ability, he brightens every day. He has added so much to our lives!
I strongly suggest anyone with a prenatal diagnosis of a Down Syndrome child talk to us or thousands like us whose lives are blessed beyond measure because of our special child.
I will close with what someone told us when Andrew was born – “God chooses special people for special children”. We believe this and are so grateful God chose us! Our lives are much richer because of it.”
– Patrick, Andrew’s father

UNITED STATES

Arianna

“This is my absolutely AMAZING 7 year old daughter, Arianna. She is quite literally a bright light in the world and brings happiness to everyone she comes into contact with. Arianna is head over heels in love with Jesus Christ and loves to worship in church. She sings, dances, and actively participates in general education classroom with other 1st graders. I want the world to see Arianna as a WHOLE PERSON. She is often underestimated and I want the world to challenge her and have higher expectations for her instead of assuming that having Down syndrome means she can’t do what other 7 years olds can do.”

JAPAN

Setsuko

“I don’t like to hear the word of Down Syndrome when TV and Newspaper tell the people about NIPT. I went to regular high school. I wanted to tell the classmates that I have Down Syndrome and I live a happy life. When the teacher asked me why I wanted to go to regular high school, I answered that I wanted any mother not to kill their babies.”

PORTUGAL

Pilar

Pilar and her father Paulo have been occupying their time during the COVID-19 quarantine by making videos together.
It all started with a school initiative to celebrate Father’s Day with a video. It worked so well that the next day, Pilar asked for more.
And of course, Paulo could not resist that pleading expression. Therefore he got to work. To date the videos have gained an extraordinary audience, with thousands and thousands of views. They are filled with a tremendous load of sweet tenderness, ready to infect our days. With her freshness and innocence, with a light that comes from her joy, little Pilar tells us stories, and suddenly it seems that the bad times we are going through are even bearable.
Pilar, utterly oblivious to the fame of her charm, shows once again that when we are down, affection is always able to save us. Sometimes, amid everything that happens to us, the challenge is to find the end of the thread that must be pulled to remain happy.
Paulo describes the love he has for his daughter as “an anchor in his existence, that helps him overcome all difficulties.”
YouTube channel “My Pilar”

UNITED STATES

Juliette

“Sharing an orbit with a child with Down syndrome has more than its share of magic moments, those instances where the clouds part and what’s really important reveals itself. When they happen, you can’t help but stop and think about how lucky you are to have her in your life.
My granddaughter is an active, inquisitive three-year-old who enjoys the little things in the world around her with an enthusiasm I wish everybody had.
What would it be like if we judged others as Dr. King admonished, “by the content of their character,” and not by what we see? What would it be like to believe that everyone has potential beyond the capabilities they display? And what would it be like to accept everyone, including ourselves as valuable, worthy human beings?
This little girl, whom we were told would take “the scenic route” to maturity has already answered these three crucial questions in a way that some, so called “normal” adults never will. When you are truly loved and accepted, it’s almost impossible not to reflect the same thing back in return.
I felt grateful to be able to witness the magic moments, as this wonderful girl lives her life with delight and enthusiasm.”
– Juliette’s grandfather, Scott

IRAQ

Raz

“May name is Raz, I am 8 years old. I am different from others, and this difference is a gift from God that God has given us. With me is my father, my mother, my grandmother and my sisters. I go to a private school. My ambition is to reach a country that respects me and fulfills my wish to live like other people because we have talents and good qualities. I have participated in several activities and celebrations and was ranked first in terms of elegance and beauty.”

INDONESIA

Grace

“My name is Grace. I am from Indonesia, currently living in the Philippines. I am 21 years old and graduated from Brent International School. My professional job is a classroom assistant for grade 5 students in One World School, Philippines.
I have a twin sister, who is 6 minutes older than me.
I started learning how to become a barista and was accepted to work at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, however, this was put on hold due to lockdown. I love singing, dancing, swimming, and joining Best Buddies’ activities.
If there was one message that I would like to tell young girls just like me is to not be afraid. It is not scary at all. In fact, having an extra chromosome makes life even more exciting.”

INDONESIA

Nizam

“Hi my name is Nurwahidah. My son Nizam has Down syndrome. We live in Malang East Java Indonesia. I am house wife and bussines woman.
I’m very proud of my son. He is so cute, cheerful, funny, and has much love for his family.
Nizam is 13 years old and has imagination. Sometimes he acts likes an actor. We are often suprised by him. He is smart. He likes playing on the play station; we never taught him how to play but he taught himself by trial and error.
Sometimes he is nosy. Everthing he does makes us laugh. We love him so much. And always support him.
We have had a challege to educate him. We usually have bad perceptions from people about special kids. But we are strong enough and never care about that.
Nizam sometimes has an up and down temper.
We need to be more patient. Now Nizam is getting bigger and clever. We hope he can be autonomous in the future.”

AUSTRALIA

Matt

“Hi my name is Matt O’Neil. I am passionate about my community, and raising awareness about Down syndrome. I am the Chair of Down Syndrome Victoria’s Advisory Network in Victoria, Australia. A new group passionate about developing new ideas, strengthening community understanding of Down syndrome, and advocacy. I always try to be a good leader, a role model and to look out for the rights of people with a disability. I like to go to events, meet new people, and make friends. In 2020 this was hard! I’m glad we can get together with friends now.”

ZIMBABWE

Andile

“I am 35 years old. I live with mother in Emakhandeni, Bulawayo the second largest city in Zimbabwe. I have four sisters and three brothers. I love my family. I work in the kitchen for Zimbabwe Down Syndrome Association. I like making tea for my boss. I am in the church choir and I sing with my friends. I love my Bishop he is good. I attended a workshop on Alternative to Violence Project training and got a certificate. I went to Riverside Stimulation Centre a private Elementary school and when I was sixteen I went to Riverside Collegeate where we were taught life-skills.”

CANADA

Janet

“My name is Janet and I live in Alberton, Prince Edward Island Canada. I am a motivational speaker and I have spoken on inclusion and my life. I have travelled all across Canada and USA and even to Trinidad and Tobago. I work at a Pre Kindergarten Program as an assistant. I am most proud of helping get a bill with our provincial government passed here to declare March 21 as Down Syndrome Awareness Day. I am also proud of being a Special Olympian and an athlete leader. I won gold for Canada in snow shoeing at my first World Games in Austria in 2017. One challenge I had was about housing. But I advocated and helped get a home built in my town that provides supportive living. I lived there for 6 years before I moved to my own apartment.” 

SOUTH AFRICA

Sheri

“When I was born people like me were seen as a burden on their parents and society. We were mostly hidden in institutions or at the back of homes. 
Mainstream schools did not want me because they said I would give their school a bad name. My IQ was acceptable, but my face was wrong. When I was eventually admitted into a mainstream school no amendments were made for me. I had to work much harder than the other students, but I never gave up. I believe you are only a failure when you give up trying.
I am the first person with Down syndrome to pass a mainstream Grade 10-curriculum in South Africa. After that I attended a National Technical College, and there I passed my Grade 12 examinations.
When I was small, I was perceived as destined to fail in life. But the impossible journey is the one you never began. No person with a disadvantage should be excluded from opportunities to develop. We must all work hard to reach our true potential. I do so every day and I try to inspire others to do the same. People excel differently. I would have liked to be as bright as many other people, but I have learned to make the best of who I am. Can you say the same?
I am so happy to work as an Assistant Teacher at a school for learners with intellectual disabilities. I help the teacher with lessons and to stimulate the learners. The children accept me as teacher and they often come to me with their problems because they can relate to me. I can honestly not believe all the wonderful things I have been blessed with. Apart from being chosen as South Africa’s “Woman of the year” some years ago, I have had the opportunity to address conferences of the United Nations in New York and in Genève, Switzerland. During those speeches I advocated for the rights of disadvantaged people with intellectual disabilities all over the world. My extra chromosome has given me wonderful opportunities.
Remember to believe in yourself. We’ve all got this one, precious life. What are we going to do with yours? Today a person with Down syndrome challenges you to be the best you can be.”

INDONESIA

Faiza

“Faiza is my daughter. When she was 4 years old, she already showed her talent for dance and music. I took her to dance and keyboard lessons after discovering her talent.
In 2021 at Malang and Surabaya (East Java, Indonesia), The Indonesian Association of Women with Disabilities held a Training on Trainer. Faiza was given the opportunity to present an online presentation representing children with intellectual disabilities on “How to Do Ethical Interactions”.
I hope that in the future she can be independent and become a keyboard player.”

CANADA

Lauren

“In October 2019, I published my first children’s book. Yes! I am so proud of that!
I was born in 1999. My parents had an ‘old school’ pediatrician who suggested they should consider an institution for me. The doctor told them that I’d never learn or live a meaningful life.
Thankfully, my parents ignored the doctor’s advice and brought me home.
In early 2019, I expressed an interest in writing a book. My step-father, Richard, is a fantasy author and I wanted to be a writer, just like him. I have always loved reading and writing and especially love reading to children when I volunteer at camps.
With the support of my family, my dream of writing and publishing a book is now a reality. In fact, I just released book 5 in the Lucy and Her Talkative Pets Series and I have my own publishing company, Up with Down Publishing!
I am determined to and dream of the day I can live on my own. To do that, I know I need to be as independent as I can be and that includes financially.
My love of writing and reading to small children lends itself to a wonderful opportunity to grow my strengths.
I strive to be happy, successful, and independent and I hope that my story will help others see that if they can dream it, they can do it! I hope my gifts in life will help me to reach my goals while also bringing joy to others.”

UNITED KINGDOM

Elena

“Hi, My name is Elena..I am 24 & I have Down syndrome. 
When I was born my mum was worried and scared because she didn’t know if I would walk, or talk, be able to dress myself or ever get a job. HOW WRONG WAS SHE!
I went to mainstream school…yes it was hard at times as I didnt know how to react to some of my teachers & they to me…but my Mum just kept helping them to understand me….I even left school with a GSCE in Science plus Various Btech diplomas in other subjects.
I spent 2 years at college for people with special needs…it was mainly life skills like how to clean, cook & use money.
When I was 20 we found day centres  where I’ve done Massage & pamper, Current affairs, music & many more. At one of my centres I have been out cycling on adapted trikes which I love.
But my main thing to tell you is…I HAVE A JOB !!! Yes 1 day a week and paid! I work for a safety training company through the Down Syndrome Association Workfit programme.
I clean, organise the refreshments for people on the courses, filing, shopping lists & the post. I have a company uniform and the people I work with are fab. They love my teas and coffees & my singing to the radio when I’m hoovering (my mum says she doesnt think so !)
My mum is so proud of me and still says she cant believe she was so worried when I was born.”

UNITED STATES

Jacob

“My name is Jacob. I am 23 years old and the CEO of This Is Jacob. It is a company where I create personalized, hand painted doormats and T-shirts I design myself that promote awareness and inclusion.
I live in Indiana in the US. I have been a self advocate for many years and my company has allowed to make a difference one person at a time. My best seller so far is a t-shirt I designed that says Be Kind with the 3 arrows. I have sold over 300 of those. I make a new design every few months. I like that a lot.
I also enjoy working and hanging out with my friends. We play sports, go out to eat out to eat or the movies.
I am very proud of my business. I believe I can do anything I want to. My family is very supportive and helps me a lot.
I want the world to know that I am just like everyone else. I want the same things too like be successful, have a family and be loved. It is a challenge for people to see that but once they meet me they see the similarities instead of the differences.
My doormat designs have been on the news and in magazines. I have people from all over the world follow my social media pages. I hope I am making a change.”

INDONESIA

Kidung

“Kidung does not let Down syndrome stop her from exploring her talents. She goes to school and she actively participates in events such as dancing and photo contests for child models. Kidung learns something new every day and continues to develop her talents. She has learned to create batik paintings and now she can print rupiah from her batik paintings; she is able to offer goods in the form of clothes, t-shirts and masks to Indonesians. The girl who dared to start early with a talent that she continued to explore.”

IRELAND

Claire

“Hi, my name is Claire. I live in County Kilkenny.
I am most proud of the time I was asked to be a guest lecturer for a group of students studying PE teaching in UCC. I taught them all how to play bocce and how important inclusion is.
I enjoy exercising, baking cakes and playing music.
I am looking forward to the end of lockdown.”

INDONESIA

Raffa

“Hi, my name is Yoga. I live in Jakarta, Indonesia. The story i want to share with all of you is about my brother, Raffa, who has Down syndrome. He is the best brother that I ever had. 1 month ago, my brother turned 13 years old.
It has been such a wonderful experience to me having a brother with Down syndrome. Raffa has a pure heart, he is the most kind person in the world, he never complains about everything, he has so many friends, he likes dancing, singing, painting, and modelling too. He is such a talented kid! And don’t forget, he has the best smile in the world. I never been so proud of my life than having Raffa by my side.
I just want to share to all of the people in the world who still see the special kids like a different person, please stop it! They have a future, they want to successful like us, they want have the best life, please give them space to grow and we must support them.
And here’s the best photo of Raffa. He is a wonderful brother.”
– Yoga, Raffa’s brother

UNITED STATES

Chris

“My sister and I are Irish Twins, for four days each May, we’re the same age. There are only the two of us. She is the elder and was born with Down syndrome.
A few years ago I brought Chris back to her apartment from a birthday outing, and while she was using the bathroom I checked her log. The staff keeps one for each resident, tracking their actions so a behaviorist can compile a future report.
It mostly strikes me as a cold and dehumanizing document, treating Chris like a generator of data instead of a person. But I noticed that now, the log looked more like a homework assignment, with corrections in my sister’s handwriting.
She’d edited parts by crossing out the word “good” and changing it to “great,“ she crossed out “great” and changed it to “terrific.” 
As I continued to turn the pages, I noticed there were fewer crossed off words because the staff followed Christine’s lead and the positive entries kept increasing. The most recent said: “Chris had a fantastic day at work, a double fantastic ride on the van home, and a triple fantastic meatball grinder from Subway.”
I thought it was pretty fantastic that Chris had taught the people around her how to tell her story the way she wanted it to be told.”
– Dianne, Chris’ sister, has written a book entitled, Nothing Special: The Mostly True, Sometimes Funny Tales of Two Sisters.

ETHIOPIA

Nahom

“When Nahom was born the whole family celebrated the new arrival.
When Nahom was 5 months old we noticed that he was growing slowly and had some other problems so we took him to the hospital. The doctor was afraid to tell us that he had Down syndrome. 
Nahom needed heart surgery but that is difficult to get in Ethipia, let alone for children with Down syndrome. We searched online and found a Cardiologist in India who treated our son. It was very expensive and we needed help from Save The Children Ethiopia and our friends and family to pay the medical bills. We thank God and all of our supporters for our joyful son!
Children with Down syndrome are neglected in Ethiopia. There is no education. Parents are embarassed to take their children out of theri home. 
It is my dream to open a school for children with Down syndrome in Bahir Dar city.” 
– Solomon, Father of Nahom

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Chaica

Chaica is 24-year-old Emirati graduate of Sharjah English School and continued her studies in art at the International School of Arts and Sciences in Dubai.

She is fully focused on spreading awareness on inclusion, with representative roles at top national and international organizations. She is the Emirates Down Syndrome Association Representative at Down Syndrome International, Ambassador of Inclusion MENA at Inclusion International, Ambassador of Inclusion at Manzil Center in Sharjah, and a UAE Special Olympics Athlete & Leader.

In Addition, she is fully focused on her martial arts, having attained a black belt from Shotokan Japanese Sports Center. She trains and competes in nine different martial arts with her main interests being Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and karate. Chaica has participated in several competitions internationally, and has won 2 championships in Egypt and Spain. Chaica also participated as a Torch Runner during the Law Enforcement Torch Run at the World Games, and gave a speech at the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics that was held in Abu Dhabi, UAE. 

With hard work and dedication, Chaica aims to keep spreading inclusion in any way possible, and to represent what’s possible for people with down syndrome.

UNITED STATES

Courtney

“My name is Courtney. I am very active with my family, my school and in my community. I am involved at Greater Love Missionary Baptist Church , I am in the Choctaw High School JROTC, Student Council and Key Club. I was part of the cheer-ablity team The Shining Starz for 5 years. We won the National Championship in 2020.

I’m also an advocate for African American girls and women through Girl Trek, which is the largest non-profit geared toward promoting a healthily lifestyle for African American girls and women. I am part of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma and the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.

My words may be hard for some to understand, but my actions by stepping up and taking chances are loud and proud! If I’m not understood then, I have the love and support of a family so I can be heard!

I am Courtney and I am here, don’t dis my abilities! BTW, I put my flyer together, with a little help from my family.”

INDONESIA

Morgan

“My name is Morgan. I am Indonesian, 22 years old. I speak 3 languages: Indonesian, French and English.

During the COVID-19 pandemic I co-wrote guidelines on Covid-19 in simple language. My mum and I have been running weekly classes with me as her class assistant. I had 3 months training and if you know my mum you would believe that it was not an easy training that she gave me! But now I can be proud of my self because I get paid by the organization for what I do in class. 

My story as self-advocate was featured and published in October 2020 in a book called Narrative Power Collective Action Part 2. I am the only human rights activist with an intellectual disability featured in the book with other 29 social activists from all over the world.”

PERU

Jaime

“My name is Jaime. I live with my parents.

I have 2 jobs, I am an actor in the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare directed by Chela De Ferrari at the Teatro La Plaza and I support in the area of Citizenship and rights.

I am proud to be Self-Advocate because I defend the rights of People with Disabilities as the article 24 education and participation in sport, culture and free time. I have been able to travel to England, Bolivia, Colombia, London, Pennsylvania.

My biggest challenge was surfing as I was afraid of the sea, and traveling alone abroad to learn the Hamlet scripts.”

COSTA RICA

Juan

“My name is Juan . I am 37 years old. I live in Costa Rica. I am receive training work in the Fundaciòn El Futuro es de Todos. I am most proud to have a wonderful family and to learn a lot of things that help me to be a independent person and work and to get marriage that is my biggest challenge.”

UNITED KINGDOM

Kate

“My name is Kate. I would like to share one of my memories with you. Back in 2012 I was a member of the Greater London Special Olympic Swimming team. That year the Great Britain 10K race was being held in London and one of their chosen charities was the Special Olympics. I was asked to represent the Special Olympics and join the celebrities on board an open topped London bus which was at the start of the race in Picadilly. Before the race I was invited to have breakfast at the Ritz hotel with Deputy Mayor of Westminster who was due to start the race. What an exciting and memorable day that was.”

BANGLADESH

Fahim

“Hi, My name is Fahim. I’m from Bangladesh. I’m a self advocate of Down Syndrome Society of Bangladesh.
In this time of the pandemic keeping good health and a cheerful mind has been my biggest challenge. So to keep myself busy I started doing several things. My new found love for learning about computers, typing, surfing the web helped me to stay positive and healthy. Also I’ve started to pet two pigeons.
More than anything I’m grateful to the Almighty Allah for keeping me and my beloved ones safe and healthy.”

BRAZIL

José

“I am José. I am 22 years old, single, I live with my parents Eduardo and Marcia Póvoa in the West Zone of the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL.
I love imitating Michael Jackson. My stage name is José Jackson Down.”

IRELAND

Eileen

“My name Is Eileen. I come from Cavan in Ireland.
I work two jobs in Tesco and a hair salon.
I was proud work to do a project called “Who am I” for Down Syndrome Ireland in March 2018. I give a speech on World Down Syndrome Day and was on the RTÉ news.
My biggest challenge was public speaking. I gave a speech in Trinidad to practise my speech.”

GUATEMALA

Alfredo

“I have a son who is 17 and has Down syndrome, his name is Alfredo. My husband and I funded a non profit organization which serves individuals with disabilities in our country. I love to spend time with these amazing people. We live in Guatemala which is located in Central America and is a developing country, so ignorance about Down syndrome is way too much. We are learning of how other countries have grown in inclusion. Alfredo’s life inspired me in many ways. He has blessed thousands of people in our country.”
– Irene (Alfredo’s mum and founder of 
Down Guatemala)

SOUTH AFRICA

Jordana-Jade

“I am a 20 year old lady. I live with my parents Roger and Monica. I have an older sister Casey and a brother Kal.
On Mondays and Fridays I go to a vocational high school. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I work at the butchery up the road from my house where I measure, weigh and pack spices.
I love singing and dancing. I do hip hop on Fridays. I enjoy being on stage and love to make speeches.
I am a top chef and make my family supper every Friday. People love my chicken dishes and I’m now baking biscuits as well.
What’s important to me is to be a nice person and treat people well. “

UNITED STATES

Jacob

Jacob is a swimming sensation! Jacob attended Swim Camp at his local University. His dad, Mike, was unsure about sending him but Coach Crocker assured the family that Jacob would be “just fine”. That decision changed their lives!
Jacob was a co-captain on the Gulf Shores High School swim team. He received the Alabama High School Sports Magazine’s Humanitarian Award. He also was recommended for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame by then Mayor David L. Bodenharner, who said, “As the first handicapped swimmer in the history of the Alabama High School Athletic Swim and Dive Championship to make the finals, Jacob proved to himself and his teammates that he has the determination and the ability to compete. He has taken every opportunity at school, where he was voted most popular by his peers. Jacob has excelled in his life through hard work, determination and a “can do” attitude. Jacob is an impressive young man.”
Jacob has gone on to achieve gold medals for swimming and achieved not one but TWO World Records for 800m Freestyle and 1,500m Freestyle with the Down Syndrome International Swimming Organisation.

IRELAND

Scott

“Scott is My Son and is 11 years old. He is a mischievous little Man. We are from Ireland. It is important to me that people see Scott for who he is a Beautiful Little Boy and not just someone with a Disability. He is so funny and always entertaining people.” – Angela (Scott’s mum)

INDONESIA

Adit

Adit is 18 years old. He has overcome many challenges. He was late to walk and talk and when Adit was finally able to speak, it was very hard to understand what he was saying. 

Beating a drum with a stick was one of the therapies that helped Adit. He has been doing this since the age of 3, and by the age of 12 he began to show great improvement and interest in his training. Adit’s skill continues to grow to such an extent that he has had several opportunities to perform on national television. Now his dream is to become a professional drummer known throughout the world.

INDIA

Pranay

“I am Pranay Burde, I’m 32 years old and I have Down syndrome. In 2007 (aged 19) I joined Hotel “The Leela”, Mumbai. I worked for thirteen years there. I lost my job due to lockdown. Now I make Pressed Flower Arts. I make decorative wall hangings, table mats out of national materials like flowers, flower petals to sell and earn a livelihood.
I am a part of the group of parents and teachers that approaches various establishments advocating with officials for open employment of persons with intellectual disabilities. I champion the cause of inclusion of persons with intellectual disabilities through self-advocacy.
My journey has been unique and commendable. My skills and efficiency have won me admirers everywhere and my hard work has resulted in numerous accolades Nationally and Internationally, including ‘National Award 2014 and 2017, World Down Syndrome Day Award 2014, and Divyang Gaurav Puraskar 2017, among others.”

UNITED STATES

Trinity

“I want to take the time to introduce to you Cadet Trinity D. R•••, the 1st student with Down Syndrome to enroll in the NJROTC program at Royal Palm Beach Community High School’s history. She’s letting the Down syndrome community know if she can do it, so can you!!”
– Daniel (Trinity’s father)

If you have a story that you would like to share with the world, please click on the “Share your story” button below.

SHARE YOUR STORY