Today is the International day of Down syndrome. It always takes place on the 21st March. (21st day of the third month) as three represents the trisomy (triplication) of chromosome 21. Hence 21/3.
Everybody with Down Syndrome has an additional chromosome. That’s ok – it just means that some things are a little harder for them. They are a little different but different is ok. People with Down syndrome learn, laugh, love, live, and, just like the rest of us, sometimes also get cross, sad, dislike things, get uncomfortable being stared at, and just want to join in with everyone else.
Where children with Down syndrome and other disabilities are given opportunities to join in, all children benefit from this, and environments of friendship, acceptance, respect for everyone, and high expectations are created.
Inclusive environments also help to prepare all today’s children for life as tomorrow’s adults, enabling adults with Down syndrome to live, work, and join-in, with confidence and independence, fully included in society alongside their friends and peers. This is the aim of all our programmes within the Community Trust, working with people of all abilities and supporting them in realising their own potential.
For Paul Holliday, our Head of Marketing and Communications here at Bolton Wanderers the 21st March is a very special day indeed.
His daughter Isabella, remarkably, was born on Down’s syndrome day. One of life’s amazing coincidences. And this year she turns 16.
To mark that occasion Paul set himself an incredible challenge of running every day from March the 1st until March 21st for 16K per day, just under 10 miles a day.
As Paul explains, “The reason for my challenge is not only to raise awareness for people with Down’s syndrome and raise money for High Five Lancashire which my wife co-founded but also to put myself through a tough challenge to represent what people with disabilities (learning and physical) go through every moment of their lives.
Whether it be physical pain, chronic anxiety or ignorance from society at large, they navigate themselves through life without feeling sorry for themselves or wishing to inconvenience others.
Isabella isn’t a materialistic person, so it would be pointless for us to furnish her with lavish gifts on such a landmark birthday. She will be getting presents for sure, but I also wanted to show how much I love her by putting myself through the pain barrier in testament to what she means to me and my family.
I would run through forests of fire and slay dragons for her – this challenge isn’t that far off!”
Let me finish with a wonderful piece Paul wrote about his daughter a couple of years ago when she turned 14.
She is all the colours of a rainbow, a kaleidoscope of chromatic hues.
She is the blue in a clear morning sky and the orange of a burning midday sun;
A gathering of chartreuse on a lush meadow and the purple-pink of firefly heather.
She is carnation red and chrysanthemum violet, crocus saffron and daffodil apricot.
She is the fragrance of springtime flora and the melody of nature’s geometry.
She is perfectly imperfect and imperfectly perfect.
I didn’t know what my purpose in life was until God gifted Isabella to me.
From the moment she was born she has fought to prove everybody and everything wrong.
But not me. I have faith in her and take inspiration from how she flourishes through adversity.
She cannot read and perhaps never will, so she will never see the words I write about her.
But, trust me, every atom in my body believes in her, loves her and fights for her.
14! Fourteen! Oh how chronology moves apace. She is on the verge of adulthood yet will remain for evermore my baby girl.
This weekend we remember those who are downright special and if you can support Paul in his challenge please visit paulholliday.co.uk