Contributing author to Gifts : Chapter 8

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Gifts : Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives

The Gifts Outreach program provides complimentary copies of Gifts to organizations which serve parents facing a new diagnosis of Down syndrome for their child, either prenatally or postnatally. We believe that the stories in the book provide a vital companionship and support for such parents.

2008 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA): Gold Award

2008 Mom's Choice Awards: Silver Recipient, Special & Exceptional Needs

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

So you want to be an Advocate and don't know how? Let's bury the "R" word, together

We know all our kids hear it. We know we all hear it sometimes from educated colleagues, even teachers. They all say "I don't mean (insert child's name with cognitive disability here"). Well, yes, you are referring to my son, her daughter or your cousin that has Down syndrome or an intellectual disability. Let's just put an end to it all together shall we? Let's all advocate against the "R" word; your family, co-workers, and especially your children that use the word.


Soeren Polumbo is a vocal advocate for people with disabilities - and for his own sister Olivia.

Olivia has an intellectual disability, but is more characterized, according to Polumbo, by an ability to give unconditional love to the people around her.

"She has never hated anyone, or hurt anyone's feelings, but has never been accepted," he said, in front of the Boise audience.

Polumbo has spoken before the Illinois Legislature and his speeches have made the rounds on YouTube. What's remarkable, is that his work started small - one speech at his high school, with a message that happened to be strong enough, and creative enough, to spread.

Speakers at the Monday rally urged students to take an active role in the Special Olympics movement - by speaking out like Polumbo, by creating public service announcements or coming up with other grassroots ways to end discrimination.
In case you missed it before, here is Polumbo's speech: