Three girls kneeling beside a campfire. They are roasting marshmallows. There is a lake, boat, and autumn forest in the background.

Down Syndrome Awareness Month: Awareness Would Be Enough

I used to think that “awareness” was too small a word for what we need in order to change the perceptions and reality for people with Down syndrome like our daughter Penny. October is Down Syndrome Awareness month, and for a long time I wanted a word like “celebration” or “excitement” or even “acceptance” instead. But I’ve started to believe that awareness would be enough. 

We live in a world where the shiniest object and flashiest celebrity and sweetest piece of candy and saltiest new brand of chip vie for our attention. 

Real humans are not shiny. We are sometimes grumpy and often needy and usually only beautiful when someone decides to attend to us, to become aware of who we are. 

We tend to love that to which we give our attention.

When we attend to another human being, love follows.

When we take long walks in the woods and attend to the birds and the trees and the ferns and the sunlight, care follows.

When we stare at a screen and scroll through endless posts and click on buttons to entertain us, love follows. Or at least, something mimicking love follows. 

And if we pay attention to individuals with Down syndrome, if we become aware of people like Penny and her particular desires and hopes and dreams and needs and hardships and gifts, love follows. 

So my hope and prayer for Down Syndrome Awareness month is that we all become more and more aware of one another, in our beauty, brokenness, and belovedness.

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