Sarah Valiquette-Thompson and her husband, Ian, like all parents, relish the opportunity to celebrate their toddler’s milestones and, many times each day, cherish the love and joy he has brought to their family.
“Harvey just blows me away,” says Valiquette-Thompson. “He is sitting up now, he loves to throw a ball … his sister, Hayley, just lights up when she sees him. We are so grateful.”
Harvey, who recently turned a year old, was born with Down syndrome. But the oft-smiling toddler is not defined by that extra chromosome; he’s just a happy baby boy, says his mom with a smile.
When Sarah Valiquette-Thompson looks at her bright-eyed son, she doesn’t see a child with Down syndrome.
“He’s just Harvey,” she says with a smile. “He’s his own person. He’s a beautiful, healthy little baby. Yes, he has an extra chromosome, but he’s just Harvey.”
That is the message the Orillia city councillor and her family want to share today on World Down Syndrome Day.
“This is a huge day for our community and the message we want to send is around inclusion, acceptance – that all people are beautiful,” she says. “It’s important to kind of retract that judgment, to detach that label, to recognize everyone is unique and embrace everybody.”
Local parents are using a sweet and unique way to raise awareness about World Down Syndrome Day.
Ian Thompson and his wife, Sarah Valiquette-Thompson, became strong advocates of Down syndrome after their son, Harvey, was diagnosed with the condition prenatally.
There are an estimated 45,000 Canadians with Down syndrome, according to the Canadian Down Syndrome Society. It may be detected through prenatal testing or after birth through a blood test.
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Looking for stories of prenatal diagnosis in Ontario! Sarah Valiquette-Thompson created Perfectly Me – Down syndrome advocates and legislation seekers after a negative prenatal experience following a diagnosis of Down syndrome for her son. Members of Perfectly Me are on a journey to create legislation in Ontario to remove the stigma that children with disabilities are a burden pre-birth. As part of their advocacy efforts, Sarah and her team are looking for stories from families about their prenatal diagnosis. Connect with their efforts via the linked Facebook page to share your family’s story.