This World Down Syndrome Day we chat to a super inspirational mum about a project very close to her heart.
Becca tells us about what led her to create a set of digital language cards that aim to change the language used around Down Syndrome and how we can all help to share her message.
"Hi my name is Becca and I am an actor who lives in Cornwall. I was born in Falmouth and moved away to go to drama school, I then worked all over the UK as an actor before also working in International Development where I lived and worked in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and India. I love sea swimming and walking and have walked the South West coast path and the Camino de Santiago, a 550-mile pilgrimage across Spain, and I try to sea swim most days.
My partner Thom is a sailor of traditional boats and a photographer, this is how we met as Thom was taking my professional actor headshots. Thom loves wild camping and walking.
Arthur is our son who is now 1 year old, he is an inspiration to us both. 3 words I would use to describe him would be joyful, affable and easy-going. He makes me laugh daily with his joy and curiosity. He is bright, sociable and good company.
Arthur achieves challenges put in front of him with grace, acceptance and good humour. He is fascinated by trees, his cat, and birds. He makes me look at the world in a more positive light. He fills my soul with love…which is not bad for a little boy that has only just turned one.
Living with Arthur for the last year has highlighted to me from first-hand experience the amount of inappropriate language that is used surrounding Down Syndrome on a daily basis. So, I decided to write an Open Letter to try and make a change in my local community, I realised people wanted to say the right things but often didn’t know what they were, (as I too was one of these people only a year ago).
Following the success of my open letter, I decided to work with a design studio to create these social media cards in hope to encourage more people to think about their language.
I always thought I was considerate and appropriate in all the language I used, but once sat on the other side of my son’s diagnosis, I realised how wrong I was. I now realise that the perceptions I had around Down Syndrome had been strongly influenced by the inaccurate subconscious messages of everyday language that has constantly been fed to me and is still being fed to me.
Only with experience have I realised the extent of which – it is daily. From friends, consultants, health visitors, midwives and strangers.
The response to the cards has been phenomenal. There have been 100’s of shares worldwide on social media by friends, family, other parents, medical professionals, celebrities, charitable organisations, the list goes on and on.
This has further proved to me that people want to use the correct terminology around Down Syndrome but often don’t know what it is, and the cards have been instrumental in helping.
21st March is World Down Syndrome Day, so now is the perfect time to raise awareness around language and highlight the difference small changes can make to everyday lives. I am delighted with the initial response and excited by the massive potential these cards hold.
I’d love people to download and share the cards on their social media pages. You could also print the cards off and share or display them."
Find out more at www.languagecreatesreality.com
You can share the website with anyone that could use it, especially organisations and collectives of people.
Rebecca's hard work has even been (rightly) recognised by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson - read more here!
Anyone can be a positive ambassador of Down Syndrome, knowing that an inclusive society that promotes individuality for all, is a society that is more interesting and is of benefit to all.
To raise awareness of Down Syndrome in 2013, the theme of wearing odd socks was initiated to raise awareness. Over time it has also been promoted as Lots of Socks. The idea was created because chromosomes are shaped “like socks” and people with Down Syndrome have an extra chromosome.