An Ottery St Mary woman is speaking out about Down’s syndrome in a bid to raise awareness of those living with the condition.
Emma Bishop is championing World Down Syndrome Day, on Saturday, March 21, in the hope of busting some of the myths and to help stamp out the stereotypes.
Emma, who said having Down’s syndrome does not define her, is asking Ottery and East Devon residents to join her in the celebration of people later this month, and turnaround the negativity she, and friends, have experienced first-hand.
Emma said she wanted people to know she was not a victim, and did not ‘suffer’ from Down’s syndrome.
“I am a unique individual and should be acknowledged as a person, first and foremost,” said Emma.
“ I have a learning disability. I am not a retard, mentally handicapped, backward or have a mental disability.
“Down’s syndrome is a ‘condition’, not a disease or illness, so get it right.
“And lastly, if you want to know something about me, ask me.
“Don’t ask my parents or whoever may be with me at the time. Look me in the eye and ask me directly because I have a mind and a voice of my own.”
To raise awareness and celebrate people with Down’s syndrome, Emma has released some personal photographs of her life as she urged: “Don’t say that I ‘suffer’ from Down’s syndrome or am a ‘victim’.
“I ‘have’ Down’s syndrome and I am certainly not a victim.”
She added: Plus, it’s ‘Down’s syndrome. Don’t be lazy and shorten it to ‘down’s’.”
Emma, who has a job, is championing inclusion. She said people with Down’s syndrome were still subject to negative attitudes, discrimination, exclusion and stereotypes.
She said: “People in the medical profession, please don’t talk about the ‘risk’ of having a baby with Down’s syndrome. It’s not a bad thing.
“Please talk about the ‘chance’ of having a baby with Down’s syndrome.
“On that note, if you are meeting a new mother who has had a baby with Down’s syndrome, congratulate her on her new little one.
“Ask her all the questions you would do anyone – having Down’s syndrome does not define us.”
World Down Syndrome Day, on March 21, invites people to photograph themselves wearing mis-matched socks using the hashtag, #LotsOfSocks
For more information about World Down Syndrome Day, see here.