A few weeks ago, I overheard Katherine talking with one of her friends about Down syndrome. She was explaining the science behind it; I heard her talk about chromosomes, what they are, and how Charlotte has 47 and they have 46. She also explained what Down syndrome means for her little sister, and how Ds is the reason Charlotte is sometimes hard to understand. Her friend was very receptive, nodding her head and asking questions in all the right places; because at age nine, a candid discussion like this is no big deal.
My heart swelled as I listened to the two girls talk. Katherine, spreading awareness and acceptance for her sister without knowing the magnitude of what she was doing; her friend listening, understanding, and asking questions about something that was unfamiliar to her.
Today is World Down syndrome Day (March 21st each year ....3/21, which represents the 3 copies of the 21st chromosome). Six million people across the world have Down syndrome, but that is just a fraction of the people who have some sort of disability which makes them different. Something I have come to understand with more clarity since Charlotte's birth; disability is much, much bigger than Down syndrome. And difference is much, much bigger than disability. And though today the focus is on Down syndrome, I urge you to think bigger.
Acceptance comes from understanding. Understanding comes from being educated. Education comes from asking questions and learning. We all need to take a lesson from 9-year-olds, and know that it is okay to ask questions and learn more about what makes each of us unique.
No two people in this world are the same; difference is what makes life interesting. Today, don't just celebrate Down syndrome, celebrate difference.