All people with Down syndrome have cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of their skills and talents. They can lead successful and fulfilling lives supported by their family, friends and community, good health care, a stimulating home environment and quality education programs. While living with Down syndrome is challenging, life expectancy has increased for people with the syndrome in recent decades dramatically as they attend work and school, build meaningful relationships, start families and contribute to society in many ways.
Fifteen years ago, a Colorado Springs mother, Renee, told her baby wouldn’t have a quality of life after giving birth with Down syndrome. Doctors advised her to put her child in institution and a doctor even suggested to put her for adoption.
The mother does not believe that she knew in her heart that her daughter Kennedy would succeed. From the night she arrived, she was distressed to learn of her daughters “condition” and she got the negative, gloomy picture painted by doctors and nurses, without any idea of what the future would hold for her children. But the next night she restored her faith and hope. It was that night when a friendly midwife told her that Kennedy is very beautiful like her daughter, who also had a condition, that she felt a glimmer of hope.
“The first thing I did was to ask if her daughter could walk because I did not know what it was like to have this disease. She said of course she now is 16 and can walk.”
A year after Kennedy’s first birthday, Renee went to the hospital and left a special care package in the maternity ward for mothers of Down Syndrome babies. It was a copy of a book meant to help her understand what Down Syndrome was and a sweet onesie with a slogan to celebrate her unique baby. She left her contact details and asked the midwife to give her card to all new mothers with children like her daughter. Many have reached out over the years to Renee about the package and she hopes that a positive conversation about what she has heard about what her daughter has achieved will spare her many unnecessary traumas and fears that Renee has gone through.
Kennedy is today a successful young model with Down syndrome who works for some of the leading brands in the US and competes in national dance competitions. She dances with her friends and enjoys going to the movies with her boyfriend Matthew who also has Down syndrome. During her recovery from Halo, she spent a lot of time watching dance videos, so much so that she took a dance class for herself. She’s a girl her age like any other girl.
He came to give Kennedy his cell phone and said he thought it was broken because it missed her number, which was always there.
Kennedy brought to our lives so much joy and laughter and has grown to a beautiful and fun young woman with the world at her feet. Kennedy is now a model for the American Girl, Disney and Justice Clothing and has signed with KMR Diversity and Dream Talent Management. She has flown from New York to Hollywood to audition and take modeling jobs.
Renee is so proud of her daughter and sad over the misconceptions doctors had about her when she gave birth. But she is also sad that in moments like prom dress shopping she wasted time grieving because she felt that none of the normal milestones had been achieved. It was a shock to be misinformed by the doctors and that was 15 years ago.
They most particularly see their daughter as a typical teenager who loves to text her friends and hang out in the mall. The fact that teachers at the school have given Renee the opportunity to speak out shows how much progress has been made in the recent years. Mother and daughter attend school to teach children of all ages about Down syndrome and support people with Down syndrome. Renee accepts what we are going through.
I want her happy with where her life has taken her. No doubt that she will continue to grow into an independent, strong and amazing adult, whether she acts as a model, goes to college, speaks publicly or finds her passion in the workplace. She will continue to live her best life no matter what.