When has someone surprised you with the gift of hope? Brought you the unexpected joy and relief of camaraderie? Challenged you to hold higher expectations?
When we received Lizzie’s diagnosis of Down syndrome just after her birth, I had no context for what it meant for her or us. I feared she might not walk, talk, or count to three. I did not know if she would make friends, play sports, or do homework. Looking back now, my ignorance is astonishing, but my lack of context for what our family’s journey would look like is normal. As her parent, my thinking about disability, my ignorance, could be the biggest limiting factor to her living a full, whole life. What do you do with that?
Our family was fortunate to connect early with people who helped us challenge our norms. People who held high expectations, showed us that disability is natural, and modeled how to navigate the next step for Lizzie and the step after that. These are the people and families of FACT Oregon. Today, Lizzie counts, she runs, she has playdates, she has ballet practice and plays soccer, she does homework. And she is in first grade in a typical class in our neighborhood school– the first child with Down syndrome to attend for as long as anyone can remember. The people at FACT Oregon helped us make that happen.
FACT Oregon is at the forefront of changing societal norms by raising expectations. What FACT Oregon does for parents like me is provide peer-to-peer support, share information and resources, and empower families to pursue the change we want to see. They help professionals and families collaborate to help kids lead whole lives. They mentor families —encouraging, training, and asking us to pay it forward. FACT Oregon gave me the gift of encouragement and high expectations for Lizzie. FACT Oregon believes Lizzie and all the kids who come after her should get to live a whole life.
Today, FACT Oregon needs your help. We broke back-to-back monthly records this fall for calls from families seeking help with special education and other disability-related issues. In 2018-19, we’re hosting Regional Conferences across the state, growing the All Ability Tri4Youth barrier-free triathlon, and sharing family stories with policymakers. To meet increasing demand, we need your support!
Will you make a recurring or end-of-year gift to FACT Oregon? Today, you can surprise someone with the gift of hope and belief in a child’s potential. Today, you can help empower parents to Champion the Change We Want to See – all people living whole lives.
In hope and with high expectations,
Board Chair, FACT Oregon