This week, we are celebrating one of our favorite groups of people on this planet. These are the people of the world who have an extra chromosome.
This day is particularly special to the people behind Gardenuity, as our CEO and Co-founder has a daughter with special needs, as well as our Channel Sales Associate, who has a daughter with Down syndrome. Furthermore, some of our employees who are part of Gardenuity are individuals with Down Syndrome or other disabilities.
World Down Syndrome Day takes place on March 21 every year, in an effort to bring awareness, compassion, and equality to individuals living with “varying degrees of intellectual and physical disability and associated medical issues” that come with an extra chromosome. As mentioned above, Down syndrome is identified by a person who has 3 copies of the 21st chromosome. So, the 3rd month, the 21st day was chosen to honor those with Down syndrome.
Why WDSD is Important?
Every human on the planet deserves equality, empathy, and understanding. At Gardenuity, we believe that individuals with Down syndrome have the inherent right to be accepted and included as valued and equal members of the community.
For far too long, people with down syndrome, or any sort of special needs in general, have been disregarded, outcasted, and forgotten by society. We believe in the power of people with Down syndrome and believe in the importance of supporting individuals with all sorts of capabilities and challenges to uplift and inspire.
Gardenuity is about making gardens and gardening experiences accessible to everyone, wherever they live, work, and play. We are honored to be growing alongside of those who are developmentally disabled- special adults who are our greatest teachers. Children with special needs receive a lot of attention, support, and resources throughout their adolescence. However, unfortunately, when these children grow up to become adults, the opportunities for them in the community are reduced.
This is why we choose to employ individuals with special needs, provide them with a sense of purpose, and lift them up through fulfilling work. All anyone wants (special needs or not) is to feel that they belong. We are hoping to instill that in the people we employ, one garden at a time.
Let’s Chat: Down Syndrome Edition
The best way to understand another person is to talk directly to them, so we did just that. The women featured below are amazing individuals, with endless potential and so much to offer the world. We are proud to have these women on our Gardenuity team.
What is one of your favorite parts about yourself?
Watching movies, arts and crafts, riding horses, working, yoga and country music. She also loves her brother and her extended family.
Her daily routine is important to her which is attending a day program three days per week, riding horses one day, and working one to two days a week. Sometimes 3 days per week during the busy season. She has been working at Reading Glasses To Go for five years now and loves it. And they love her. She is a valued member of their fulfillment team. She assembles small reading glasses shipping boxes and averages about 500 in just 5 hours. She is a machine and loves it. She also assists with inserting coupons and anything else the team needs help with.
Every person with a disability has a talent and a desire to have meaningful employment. Companies like Gardenuity and Reading Glasses Inc have recognized that and are putting their talent to great use. It is truly mutually beneficial. Unemployment amongst the disability community is in the high 70%. It’s a hugely untapped pool of outstanding, loyal employees!
Meet Kelly (Mother of Happy)
What does Down syndrome mean to you?
“Down syndrome to me is just a label given to identify a congenital condition. It should not be used to identify stereotypes or lack of abilities because, with any individual, everyone’s abilities are different. What I have learned about Down syndrome is that people with this diagnosis are quite intelligent with excellent receptive skills; they just can’t always express how much they do know. Given the same support and respect as any other person, people with Down syndrome thrive and go on to lead healthy, active lives.”
What is one of your favorite qualities about your daughter, Happy?
“Only one? There are so many! I would say her sense of humor. Just out of the blue, she will make a comment that cracks us up and then she gets the giggles and makes herself laugh. We could be having a rotten day and a dose of Happy snaps us into a great mood. She is the ultimate attitude adjuster and gives us perspective on what is truly important.”
What is your biggest hope for the future Happy?
“My hope is that she continues to have fulfilling, meaningful employment, friends, social opportunities, and the ability to be as independent as possible.”
What advice would you give to parents with children with special needs?
“Treat your children with special needs as equals to other children. They should have boundaries and learn social morals just like everyone else. Sign them up for every opportunity and do not let their disability disable you or them. Some great advice I was given, was to understand that people who learn you have a child with a disability may not know how to react and will feed off of you. So, I always say I have a beautiful daughter with Down syndrome who steals hearts. If I’m okay with her, they are, too. It’s fascinating to see people’s reactions and relief. Lastly, don’t stop living or doing just because your child has a diagnosis. We never stopped our social life and growing as individuals and as a couple just because we had a child with special needs.”
Gardening and Special Needs
Gardening has the amazing ability to ground us, relieve anxieties, and give us life and hope. We believe in the power of nature to nurture us and change our lives for the better. The same goes for individuals with special needs.
According to Rise Services, some of the amazing benefits and qualities that gardening can instill in people with disabilities are, “a sense of responsibility and care, promot[ing] your innate sense of nurturing, stay[ing] connected to nature and living things.”
The ability to feel connected with the world around you, the earth beneath your feet, and the people surrounding you are vital to the human experience. Allow gardening to be the first step into change and understanding with humans of all kinds and backgrounds.