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3.21 World Down Syndrome Day: Thoughts on How I Celebrate Diversity

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Diversity.

Whether the subject matter is education, the workforce, religion, or societal expectations, it seems our culture is infatuated with the idea of diversity.  For some, it may never truly be understood.  For others, embracing diversity is something that is slowly being learned.  For the children of today, it is the norm.

In my opinion, we are headed in the right direction with diversity.  After all, by embracing diversity we pronounce that no one should be denied opportunities based upon their color, race, age, religion, gender or way of life. However, as much as we’d like to pat ourselves on the back and say “we are a nation that embraces diversity,” we have not yet arrived.

Who wouldn't want to include this guy?!

Who wouldn’t want to include this guy?!

Rather, there is an unspoken qualifier that underlies that statement, and I would argue a more accurate definition of the nation’s understanding of diversity is this:  We are a nation that embraces diversity, to the extent that we deem you a valuable contributor to society.

The time is now for people of all colors, races, age, religions, genders or ways of life to recognize another group in our society that is too often left out when we throw out the word “diversity.”  Simply put, they are the many men, women, boys and girls who are differently-abled and part of the special needs community.  If as employers, educators, neighbors and churches….if as human beings, we are preaching to one another the value of diversity, then we must stand prepared to not only include, but to actively embrace those differently-abled members of the special needs community as our valuable equals.

Today is World Down Syndrome Day.  Today, 3.21.14, I am thankful to be celebrating with many people around the globe, the remarkable men, women, boys and girls in our lives who help diversify the special needs community, particularly those that have three copies of the twenty-first chromosome.  This day is also for celebrating the friends, family members and the many people around the world who work hard to advocate for the inclusion of people of all abilities.

So, today I celebrate my son.
Today I celebrate all the things that he can do and all the things that he will do for this world.
Today I celebrate my husband, for giving our son every opportunity to show the world that he is a valuable gift.
Today I celebrate my daughter, for being her brother’s greatest advocate, teacher and friend.
Today I celebrate my mother, who told me from day one to always keep my expectations high and our little guy will exceed them.
Today I celebrate family members and friends whose lives will never be the same after having loved this special boy.
Today I celebrate educators and advocates who stand with me in making sure that my son is included with his peer group and given every opportunity to learn new things.
Today I celebrate every therapist and teacher who has worked with him, encouraged me and celebrated his successes, no matter how big or small.
Today I celebrate his friends who have loved and accepted him and see him as valuable.
Today I celebrate the small percentage of parents who receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome during their pregnancies and choose to keep their babies’ lives because they are valuable.
Today I celebrate the families of other people with special needs who persevere through hard times, and continue to give, give and give more of themselves for their loved ones.
Most importantly, today I celebrate God my Father, who tells me in His Word, that He created each one of my children in His image.  Thank you, Jesus, for these gifts.
Today I celebrate you, Seth. I love you very, very much and I cannot imagine my life without you in it. And as your mommy, I will celebrate you every day of my life.

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12 Responses to “3.21 World Down Syndrome Day: Thoughts on How I Celebrate Diversity”

  1. Abbie March 21, 2014 at 2:47 am #

    You got me all teary-eyed Em. What a great post!

  2. Janet Andrews March 21, 2014 at 7:58 am #

    Nicely said Emily!

  3. Matt Powell March 21, 2014 at 8:17 am #

    Em, so well written! So so so thankful that God has given us a seat close enough to see and feel the way He is using, and will continue to use Seth in such mind-blowing ways. He most definitely should be celebrated! :)

  4. Lori Powell March 21, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    Oh if everyone could know Seth! If everyone could see what I see in your family…I thank The Lord for you continually. He has used all 6 (!) of y’all to change me for the better, for His glory. I can’t imagine my life without Seth, or any of y’all–you’re my constant reminder that The Lord is faithful and good and always comes through. You are an amazing woman, Em, and I love you to pieces.

  5. Emily March 21, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    Thank you Matt and Lori. We are so thankful for how you love Seth and all of our children.

  6. Sherry Palmer March 21, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    Beautiful tribute to Seth and to all Downs children. I remember your mother’s unfailing optimism upon hearing that Seth would have Down’s. I know she is proud of you and all of her grandchildren, but I am sure Seth will always hold a special place in her heart and the hearts of many others!

  7. Steve Beggs March 21, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    I have enjoyed Seth every time I have been able to be around him. What a great kid.

    • Joel March 21, 2014 at 10:31 am #

      Steve

      Thanks for the comment. He really lights up when he’s around you!

  8. Mark Merrell March 21, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    Beautifully written, Emily. Seth is such a blessing to everyone around him. So thankful for him and y’all’s wonderful testimony. This really blessed my day. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Terri Hall March 21, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    Beautifully written! We love watching he, Meghan, and Melissa! I am so excited for their futures and am honored to know them.

  10. Bill (Poppa) Skaggs March 22, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    What Seth represents to me:
    Seth’s a kid- he laughs, plays, cries, gets excited, gets mad and goes to school just like a kid.
    Seth loves the way we should- if there’s a conflict of wills, when it’s over it’s over-new start, new day, all forgiven.
    Seth’s my grandson- he has a special place in my heart that is different, unique to him just like each of my other 8 grandchildren have.
    Seth is a blessed opportunity- as my second special needs grandchild he has provided a wonderful perspective that only those who experence him can have.
    Seth channels growth- God has used this little man to grow His kingdom work in his parents and all who know him and I watch with joyful anticipation for what God has in store for his life.
    Oh yes, Seth is Down Syndrome…

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