Meredith Martin of Neligh is joining others around the world, recognizing the month of October as Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that is estimated to occur in 1 in every 700 births. This genetic difference affects approximately ¼ million families in the United States. The genetic variation on the 21st chromosome creates physical, intellectual and language delays of varying degrees.
Due to improved health care, early intervention, inclusive education, and positive public attitudes and acceptance, individuals with Down syndrome are reaching beyond earlier expectations. Today many individuals with Down syndrome are employed, living independently and enjoying recreational opportunities in their communities.
In commemoration of Down Syndrome awareness month, Martin has donated a copy of her recently published book, “ABC Building Blocks for Growing Up With Down Syndrome,” to the Neligh Public Library.
She told librarian Jennifer Norton that, a little over a year ago, she was asked to share her journey of establishing her independent living experience with the Down Syndrome Association for Families in Lincoln. In order to create a more effective Power Point to go with her presentation, she called on a friend and local media specialist, Gloria Christiansen. Gloria, "a master of big dreams," suggested Meredith put the information into a book so that more people could know her story. Christiansen took it from there, using her knowledge and connections to accomplish the dream.
Martin explained that the “ABC Building Blocks for Growing Up with Down Syndrome” is the story of her independent living “building project.” It is her hope that her story will inspire and motivate self-advocates and their families to dream big and set their sights on reaching as much independence as possible. In the book, she has highlighted the joys and challenges of achieving independent living. Her objective is to spark ideas, help others dream, establish a blueprint, and anticipate success for the future. There are ideas for starting the process at any age.
Anyone who is interested in copies or more information may send inquiries to Gloria Christiansen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include "ABC Booklet for Down Syndrome" in the subject line. Or, you can contact Christiansen by mail at 602 “N” Street, Neligh, NE 68756
“One of the biggest lessons my family and I have learned from this publishing experience is that others in the community are there for us, too," Martin said. "I have had many dreams come true and have reached many of my goals. Publishing a book was a huge surprise and one that probably would not have been accomplished without the help of my friend, Gloria.”