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Monday, August 15, 2011

Convention Recap

At the beginning of Aug we went to San Antonio to attend our third NDSC Convention. This was the 39th annual convention. It's kind of hard to imagine the annual conventions started 39 years ago; especially considering the misconceptions surrounding Down syndrome. 40 years ago doctors were telling parents to send their babies to institutions; their children would be better off there instead of being raised at home.

I heard about the annual conventions within the first year of Kayla's life and knew it would be something I'd want to attend. We attended our first one in 2008 in Boston, then last year in Orlando. I read somewhere that the conventions were like a great big family reunion. In San Antonio I really felt what that meant. It really is starting to feel like a big family reunion - all the family that you only get to see once a year. We met people we've known online for the first time and saw friends we met previously at other conventions. I recognized young adult self-advocates from other conventions, and from the NDSC newsletters. While I haven't had the opportunity to speak to many of the self-advocates it's nice to see what has become 'familiar faces' around the conventions.

I met some wonderful people from the Global Down Syndrome Foundation (GDSF), +15 Campaign, and Reece's Rainbow ministry - all of whom I've communicated with via Facebook and Twitter. It was so nice to meet them in person!

We attended workshops on reading, math, prenatal diagnoses and shaping the future of Down syndrome, inclusion in education, and nutrition ... only a small sampling of the workshops being offered.

Siblings have their own conference which I keep hearing wonderful things about (am looking forward to Lucas being a part of that!). The Youth and Adult Conference is for individuals with Down syndrome age 15 and older. With help from the support team this conference is planned and presented by self-advocates, for self-advocates.

Kayla and I had the chance to peek in to the Y&A Conference kick-off party. What a blast they were having in that room! The energy was amazing. Looking around at all the teens and young adults with Ds just living and loving life! There was no worrying about being accepted based on your looks or the clothes you wore ... everyone was accepted, everyone was having a great time. They were practicing for the flash mob dance to "Born This Way."

Kayla was shaking her booty right along with them in that room and I just took it all in realizing that in 7 years that was going to be Kayla. Kayla at her own conference doing her own thing, without us. 

Kayla was dancing in front of the projector and watching her shadow on the screen.

We met DeOndra Dixon, the GDSF Ambassador (and also Jamie Foxx's sister), Lauren Potter, actress from Glee, and Monica & David. (Their film has been nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Information Programming!)

The kids, exhausted after all the festivities...and this was only Friday night!

Next year's convention is going to be in D.C. ... I'm already looking forward to it!

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Becca said...

Oh, I was so sad to miss it this year (and all past years, LOL), but excited for next year! Love your pics, especially of Kayla dancing her heart out!

Roo's Mom said...

I took Roo's older sis to the NDSS Convention in Chicago many moons ago. We had a wonderful time. Haven't been to the NDSC Convention yet, but we have family in the DC area, so that would be an additional draw for next year. If you go, we'll have to make plans to meet there.

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Mom24 said...

I'm so glad you got to go. It sounds like an amazing time. How fun it will be for you to see Kayla grow at the conventions.