This week is a particularly special week for me. It is Down’s Syndrome Awareness week. A week to celebrate diversity, personal achievement, and inclusion amongst other things. And to wear #lotsofsocks because #inclusionmatters. I mean, it’s only an extra chromosome…
Almost 12 years ago Down’s syndrome came sharply into focus for me when my beautiful daughter, Amy, was born. Amy has Down’s and had some of the physical challenges that accompany children with Down’s. She was born with a large hole in the heart that required surgery at 3 weeks and again at 13 months. I can’t lie, as it was a horrible time. Signing a consent form for open heart surgery on your own child is not easy. The staff at Birmingham Children’s Hospital are all heroes in my eyes, and without them and the wonderful NHS system we often take for granted then my daughter wouldn’t be here today. I cannot begin to fathom what impact that would have on me.
Nowadays, Amy is a healthy(ish) child – she takes after her dad and has a healthy appetite, but fortunately a healthier diet 😊. She looks different, and has alopecia which means she hasn’t had any hair for 5 years. She loves music, is off to see Little Mix in concert this summer, and likes to put on as much make-up and perfume as she can get away with. She is a doting sister to 2 younger brothers, and becomes increasingly independent with each passing month. The first thing she will do each morning is to come and see my wife and I and say “good morning” and give us a hug and kiss. This probably isn’t normal for an 11-year old, but then again, what is normal these days? I don’t mind as I am incredibly proud to have a child who is loving, caring and interested in what other people are doing.
My wife and I have enjoyed the continued support of family, friends and an education system that consider Amy as an equal, whilst providing additional support for her needs. We have never had any issues with Amy being treated as a lesser citizen (at least not in the UK), although I do believe that as a society we are more tolerant and understanding than in previous generations. I can’t recall any children with disabilities and/ or learning difficulties at my schools when growing up in the 80s and 90s, but Amy has been accepted wherever she has been.
But why am I blogging about this, and using the company website to do this? Well, as a diverse company we celebrate people that are different. We are a family and there are others within Team Tisski who have children, siblings, relatives that face different challenges. We empathise and support each other with this. We also do our utmost to support worthy causes, and as I have blogged about previously, we donate £1,000 to a different charity each month. And we also offer our professional services wherever we can, and it feels timely in Down Syndrome Awareness Week to celebrate the work we have been doing with the Cheshire Down Syndrome Support Group (CDSSG).
I know first-hand how important these volunteer-led groups can be. They provide opportunities for people facing similar situations to talk openly in context and to share experiences. They are groups that help parents and relatives to cope, professionals to learn, and members to thrive. Which is why it puts a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart when I can work with charities as part of my role. And I think it is reciprocated. But, let me use the words of Julie Duff, CEO of CDSSG…
“At CDSSG we are very fortunate that we have businesses such as Tiskki supporting us in our work to help people with Down’s syndrome and their families in Cheshire. We currently support over a hundred individuals and we have the potential to help even more which is why we appreciate Tiskki’s involvement in the charity. The idea behind the #LotsOfSocks campaign is to raise awareness of Down’s syndrome by drawing attention to the cause to get people talking. Roberts bakery have once again baked gingerbread socks to be sold by schools and businesses in the local community to help us raise funds.”
“The desire to unlock the amazing potential of children with Down’s syndrome underpins all our work so we’ll be running the campaign alongside the message #Ihavepotential featuring images of the children we support thriving in a variety of settings. We have lots of events planned and are even getting our supporter’s pets involved in this year’s campaign by hosting a charity dog walk on 21st March at Marbury Park in Northwich – all are welcome.”
We have configured Dynamics 365 CRM for CDSSG. They do a wonderful job for their members, and we can provide technology that makes it easier for unpaid volunteers to do what they need to. How could we not get involved?
And I hope you can get involved too. You might have a relative with Down’s, or know somebody that does. Wear lots of socks, get involved in your local Down’s group, donate to the Down’s Syndrome Association, or just appreciate that somebody with Down’s is a unique personality, with their own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, much like you and I. But they are more likely to tell them they love you, or give you a cuddle. Or in Amy’s case, try and kiss her brothers when she has a face full of lipstick. I wouldn’t change her for the world.