Hugs, warm and tender touches, soft kisses and overwhelming cuddles are some of the tender loving care I have experienced as the mother of a child with Down syndrome.
My daughter Kayla was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth at Peebles Hospital. Every new parent expects their first child to be perfect, but learning from the doctors that something was wrong with my baby did not sit well with me. Nonetheless, with the overwhelming love and support of her father, grandmother and family, I was determined to give Kayla a normal life and not have her isolated from society.
Now she has been nurtured into a beautiful young lady, and despite her challenges she is contributing tremendously to the territory with her kindness whenever she comes in contact with people.
Kayla attended mainstream secondary school, served as a member of various clubs, and attended a few major concerts in the United Kingdom. She has travelled as far as Paris, and she has volunteered in the Cayman Islands.
Upon returning to the Virgin Islands, she has been volunteering as an assistant teacher in various pre-schools and enrolled in the apprenticeship programme with the Ministry of Education. She is currently employed at a local preschool under the programme.
Her most recent milestone was voting in the February 2019 general election. She was excited and passionate about who should get her vote.
Kayla is a loving, caring and humble person, and as a mother I want her and other children and adults with Down syndrome to be included in everything possible in this territory, such as social activities, education and employment.
They should not be stigmatised. Rather, they should be recognised as individuals in their own right. This is why we celebrated World Down Syndrome day last Thursday.