What activities have you done with your daughter to get through the pandemic?
My daughter Iris and I enjoy swimming a lot. We have a pool at home and that has allowed us to stay cool, exercise, and have fun outdoors. We also love walking our dogs, reading stories, playing board games, and watching baseball and basketball. My daughter loves the movie Frozen so we also did Frozen Yoga through Cosmic Kids, an awesome online resource for parents and children.
What have you learned so far going through this situation?
I learned that prior to the pandemic I lived a life that was very fast-paced, busy, and at times so stressful that it was negatively impacting my physical and mental health. During the pandemic I made exercising a priority and when I did that my mental health automatically received a positive boost. I also learned to be happy with just being and appreciating the simple things in life.
What does Disability Awareness Month mean to you?
Disability Awareness Month is an opportunity to remind others of the beauty that lies within differences. It is a month to celebrate the abilities of individuals and dismantle stereotypes. I like to use the word Acceptance instead of Awareness. The world is aware of individuals with disabilities. The problem is a lack of respect, understanding, and acceptance.
This year marks the 75th Year of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The theme this year is "Access and Opportunity " what does this mean for you and your daughter?
My hope is that my daughter will one day have a job, be independent, and be a productive member of her community. Access and opportunity begin with Inclusion and Acceptance. Inclusion is a right and not a privilege. In order for individuals with disabilities to be successful and have meaningful employment in the future, they need to have access to an education that will allow them to thrive as adults. When we go to Target there isn't a line to pay for people with Down syndrome and a separate line for neurotypical people. Access and opportunity begin in elementary school. If students with disabilities are segregated from their peers who don't have a disability, how can they live and work together in the future?
Anything you would like to share with families?
I just want to remind families that our current situation, which includes distance learning, is temporary. We are all doing the best we can given our country’s current circumstances. Our children’s teachers are working very hard and so are our kids. Be patient, be kind, and remember that your child’s mental health is more important than their grades.
What do you like about being the Publication Chair and why did you decide to join?
I believe that parent participation in schools and school districts is very important. Parents are more valuable to their child’s success in school than they realize. I volunteered for the SELPA CAC and the Publications Committee because I enjoy advocating for my daughter, the Down syndrome community, and for parents. As the Publications Chair, I distribute valuable resources to parents, educators, and students. Many parents have difficulty-accessing resources and I feel our SELPA CAC Newsletter makes information readily available and accessible.