How Community Promotes Flourishing

picture of teenager chopping celeryWhere do you want to be in five years? Who do you want to be in five years? What do you want to be true of your everyday life in five years? These were the questions a group of people—teachers, counselors, family members, youth pastor, and friends—came together (on Zoom) to address with Penny as a part of her school-sponsored PATH meeting. They came together as a community to promote flourishing for our daughter who has Down syndrome.

We started with Penny’s strengths and abilities. She’s hard-working, caring, consistent. She’s good at reading and dancing. Good at keeping in touch with people. A “self-starter” who loves to give encouragement. And more.

She articulated some hopes and dreams for the future—living with friends in a city, working at Chipotle or as a party planner, going to college. 

Community Promotes Flourishing

Together we stated a vision of what could be true for Penny in five years and how we could support her in achieving those goals. We’ve come up with a list of self-care skills to work on, like making doctor’s appointments on her own and learning how to cook dinner. We’ve got an appointment to talk to the local head of special education about college possibilities.

But most of all, we have a commitment from our community—school, church, family, and friends—to support this young woman as she learns and grows. To encourage her giftedness and care for her where she has needs. To offer help and to encourage independence. We have a commitment, essentially, to love her as she grows up. 

A Committed Community

Peter and I often receive praise for our parenting when people meet Penny. That’s all very nice, but meetings like these make it clear to me that our parenting is not the only reason Penny is who she is. Penny is growing up in a community committed to knowing and loving her for who she is, to supporting her as she becomes the full and vibrant human being she was created to be. And that community makes all the difference—a community that promotes flourishing.

{Shared with Penny’s permission.}


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Hi, I’m Amy Julia.

I write about faith, family, disability, and privilege.

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