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This Is Ella: Breaking Down Barriers About Down Syndrome
Happy World Down Syndrome Day! In honour of all the beautiful people we are celebrating today, I am joining in a campaign to help a mama I know bring more awareness and acceptance of down syndrome.
Krista Ewert, who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, originally wrote “This is Ella” for her daughter, Ella’s, kindergarten class. Below she shares some of her experience with helping her daughter find acceptance and understanding with her peers.
“The start of school can be scary for any parent but it was especially nerve-wracking for us because we had made the decision to enroll Ella into a very large French Immersion school which, subsequently had very few children with Special Needs (and even fewer with a cognitive delay – if any). While not wanting to single her out too much, I was also very aware of the fact that children are quick to notice some things about Ella that are a little bit different. Even my son, who was seven at the time and knew Ella away from her typical peers, would say things like, “Ella resembles Bea” (another little friend of ours that has Down Syndrome) or he would inquire as to when Ella would be able to say certain words as her speech was quite delayed.”
“Line Ella up against typical peers her age and some of those difference felt glaring and too big to overcome. That being said, we also knew then and continue to believe that Ella is more the same than different. She wants to be accepted and included and just because she has trouble saying some words, it doesn’t mean that she can’t be a good friend.”
As I have seen first-hand working as a one-on-one preschool aide for various children who needed extra support, many adults are uncomfortable with difference for the sheer lack of understanding. For the most part, they want to be accepting and help their own children be friendly and kind to all of their peers. However, they don’t always know what to say, or how they can help create that understanding in an appropriate way. Krista’s book can help with this.
“Over the years, many parents of children with Down Syndrome who were approaching the school years asked our Down Syndrome community about how to approach educating teachers, parents and classmates about their child’s diagnosis. Our book was often referred to and I have had the privilege of sharing it many times over. For this reason, I decided that it was time to make it an open resource available to anyone that needed it.”
Krista has been working hard to get her book to become that ready resource for parents and caregivers to share with children. Today she is launching a Kickstarter campaign in the hopes of raising the funds needed to get this book out to the public. It’s an all-or-nothing campaign, meaning that if the entirety of the funds are not raised in the given time frame, she gets nothing. The funds raised will go to illustrations, a first run print, and a promotional video. Let’s help this mama make her honourable dreams come true, shall we?
“The purpose of the book is to promote inclusion and the foundational premise is that children with Down Syndrome are more the same than different. Not only that, but that children with any exceptional need or diagnosis have something to contribute.”
You can find the Kickstarter campaign for This Is Ella here. If you’d like to take a closer look at what the book is about, you can find out more on Krista’s website here. Also, make sure to take a peek at the YouTube video where you can see Krista share her story and explain how the idea of this book came to be, and what she hopes to accomplish with it. Her words truly are beautiful.
Thanks for reading! Even if you can’t find anything to donate, you can still help to spread the word by sharing this post and the Kickstarter campaign.
Everyone has something to contribute, in their own special way.
P.S. After you check out that Kickstarter campaign, you might want to take a peek at some other suggestions for awesome kids books about difference and acceptance.