Down Syndrome In The Workplace – Meet Our Eleventh Entrepreneur With Down Syndrome

Special & Deteremined WDSD - Sarah Ely s It’s time to meet our eleventh entrepreneur with Down syndrome – I am pleased to introduce you Sarah Ely.

Sarah has always loved fabric, and since her Mom was about ready to open up a fabric store, Sarah’s mom researched ways to teach Sarah to sew. In her research, Sarah’s mom stumbled upon a nationwide challenge called the “1 Million Pillowcase” Challenge, a nationwide effort to give away handmade pillowcases to foster children, cancer patients and victims of domestic violence. But what stuck with Sarah was “cancer patients’ and all she could think about was her blogging friend Kristen in Utah, who had leukemia and her first sewing project began.

Sarah was hooked she now, has a business called “Down Right Charming” where she sells her quilts and pillowcase on Etsy, she created a shop and she donates the money to cancer patients in the hospital.

You can find Sarah’s work at Down Right Charming.

The interesting thing about this story is not only Sarah making and selling quilts online, but her Mom fabric shop provides employment for creative persons of all abilities including those with Down syndrome.

Please visit Jellen’s House of Fabric.

Please continue following us as we celebrate 21 entrepreneurs who own their own business, have a meaningful job and the companies that are hiring individuals with Down syndrome, as we lead up to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day on March 21st.

Down Syndrome In The Workplace – Meet Our Fourth Entrepreneur with Down Syndrome

Special & Deteremined WDSD - Blake Pyron s Ready to meet our fourth entrepreneur with Down Syndrome?

Let me take this time to introduce you to Blake Pyron, a hard working individual, entrepreneur with Down Syndrome who was Prom King and Captain of his Football Team, to now be the only business owner in Texas with Down Syndrome to own his own business.

20 years earlier his parents were told by the nurses and doctors when Blake was born “don’t expect a lot” but they always expected more from him, and Blake always gives 110%.

He has his first employee, his 15 year old friend to help him with his snow cone business, and they opened May 2015. Mother’s Day to be exact, to inspire all mothers.

“It’s much bigger then a snow shake, it’s showing everybody with a disability your dreams can come true” shared Blake’s Mom.

They hope to bring a Blake’s Snow Shake to all towns in Texas.

Make sure and try one of his 20 different flavors!

Please share this with others and follow us over the next 21 days as we lead up to World Down Syndrome Day on 3/21 and share with you 21 entrepreneurs with Down Syndrome who are running their own business.

Bringing Down Syndrome Awareness To The Classroom

S stands for superhero not just special
I love this picture, it really sums it all up for us. “S stands for super hero, not just special”, and that is exactly what my son is – our SUPER HERO!

As I looked down at his beautiful, chubby face over nine years ago; I made a promise to a small, fragile little boy that “it was going to be me and him”. I’m sure his father felt the same way as did all of his family, but for me it was very personal. I knew from that day forward we were going to be a “team”, a team with a mission to advocate for awareness and inclusion and that is exactly what we are doing.

For the last several years, I have been going into my son’s schools and doing a Down Syndrome Awareness presentation, to help his classmates better understand him and his uniqueness, and bring awareness “that Jacob is just like every other child“. He may have an extra chromosome, but he really is just like any other typical boy, he may just needs some extra help, to do things that come naturally for typically developing children.

at jacobs school

I love having the opportunity to speak to “young, impressionable minds”. Kids love to learn and ask questions, and by me going into the classrooms and talking with them, I am allowing them the opportunity to get to know my son and his diagnosis of Down syndrome. To be able to ask their questions in a safe environment, like the typical question of “can they catch Down syndrome“? The conversation is positive and productive and this opens up the door for understanding and inclusion. Which I hope next will come compassion and friendship.

It also helps the school personnel (therapists, aides, learning specialists) who work with Jacob to get to know him more personally. One of the aides came up to me after my presentation and thanked me for coming in and talking to the class, as it gave him a better perspective on Jacob. He mentioned that “it allowed him to see Jacob through a different lens” and I thought that was so important and I loved hearing that. It validated to me that going into classrooms and spreading awareness, is really helping people’s understanding of children with Down syndrome.

Jacob loves that the conversation is about him. I like that the conversation is positive and productive. As I talk to the kids and share with them things about Jacob, like how he enjoys playing basketball or they see pictures of him with his friends from IN, you see this invisible weight of misconception being lifted in the room. They become more engaged. They start seeing him more like them.

at jacobs school 2

Since Down Syndrome Awareness Month is in October and the leaves were changing, I thought what a wonderful opportunity to do a hands on project with kids using the leaves. As I gave them their instructions and the leaves were being passed out, you heard them talking.

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It was awesome to hear what they were saying, “how the leaves are different sizes, shapes and colors but that they were still leaves”.

group project

They “got it“, they got the premise of the activity. So with that, instead of me talking about why we did that project, I decided that I would have one of them tell what they saw.

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And what came out of the boy’s mouth, was amazing. He saw “the differences in the leaves, but he also saw how beautiful they were”. One little girl shared she saw “how the colors were bright like Jacob is”. It was interesting to see the teacher and principal look at each other in amazement at their responses. That the presentation was truly resonating with them.

So in the end it was an awesome experience to be so welcomed by the class and to be able to share with them about Down syndrome, inclusion, and friendship. Jacob really felt like the rock star that day!

Jacob and me

Later in the day, I got an email from the teacher thanking me and telling me how the kids were still talking about the presentation. I was even at a Halloween party that weekend and one of the Moms whose son is in the class, thanked me for going in and talking to the kids. That it really made a lasting impression on her son. I felt good, because again it validated the need for this awareness.

Now for the icing on the cake. To get this in my son’s backpack the next day from the students made me want to cry. They really listened, they were really interested.

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So I will end this with this:

superhero in disguise Video 411 0 00 00-01

Let Your Advocacy Message Be Heard

let your advocacy message be heard

Are you an advocate, someone who publically supports a cause? There are many different causes that people are passionate about, for me I am a health advocate. I am a recognized special needs blogger – or what I am more proudly like to  call myself – a Down Syndrome Parent Influencer!  What is an influencer, someone who has the knowledge and the ability to influence behaviors or opinions in others.  So what is my mission, as a Down Syndrome Parent Influencer?

I am passionate and driven about my cause to raise awareness, compassion and acceptance of individuals with Down Syndrome. To share with others what the benefits of “inclusion” means to individuals with disabilities and what it brings to our society.”

 

A lot of people are comfortable in the “on line” space, but I’m here to tell you to let your advocacy message have a voice, have a face! Above you see me doing a presentation about Down Syndrome Awareness and Inclusion to my son’s class.

I was fortunate to have been sponsored by WEGO Health to attend the Type A Parent conference, a blogging conference for influential parent bloggers. There were many topics that were discussed, for example “Take Your Storytelling To the Next Level With Video”, “Building a Community With Facebook Groups”, Marketing, Advertising, but the presentation I most enjoyed was by a friend, a colleague Deborah Gilboa, M.D. from Ask Doctor G.

Deborah Gilboa at Type A 2015-10-08 15.01.47

 

Her presentation talked about “Building Your Audience by Speaking”.  She talked about why we want to speak:

  • to build our audience
  • to share our message
  • to help others

She explained to us what speaking is, it’s about:

  • sharing your passion
  • providing tools
  • teaching
  • showing your expertise
  • solving a problem

Why we would want to speak, to build:

  • our skills
  • credibility
  • resume

Where can we speak, find out where your audience is:

  • schools
  • service organizations
  • faith organizations
  • higher education (to name a few)

How do you find these speaking gigs:

  • find a connection with you and that group
  • networking
  • find out who the decision maker is
  • share with them the problem you would solve

She has motivated me to “get out there” and start spreading my message. To search for speaking gigs. I plan to reach out to my local colleges and see if I can speak to the early education majors about inclusion.

The point is let your advocacy message be heard by everyone.

You never know who in that crowd might be needing that information, might want to become a partner in your mission or who can support you through connections or maybe even financially.

Being face to face and making a personal connection with someone, can go along way!

Down Syndrome Awareness Month #DSAM15 – Fact #7

life expectancy for down syndrome

There is so much wonderful medical research available now that can help individuals with Down syndrome live a much longer, healthier and more productive life.

The key thing is to reach out to your local Down syndrome organization or the national ones to get information about what doctors, specialists and therapists will be available for your child.