Many times I’ve been asked what would be a life-changing gift for me. To me, the best possible gift has always been and will always be the opportunity to speak up and use my voice to share my story with others firsthand. As the Latino mother of two children with Down syndrome, I don’t want to be considered part of a statistic in order to receive services. Instead, I want to have the chance to tell my own story, to express my needs, and my expectations from society.
Material gifts are positive but temporary demonstrations of affection. More important and more permanent gifts like education, motivation, and faith, are gifts with the power to change our lives forever. When someone gives you the opportunity to speak, they are giving you a chance to transform things. It doesn’t matter how big or small the achievement is, you know that you are making history.
All that we need to continue to provoke changes for good and truly make history is for someone to stand up and start talking:
- So others can join
- To realize that they are not alone
- In order to feel like a part of something bigger and more powerful that will keep them inspired
When a leader is born:
- He demonstrates to others that we are all humans. We all have insecurities and hard times, and that’s okay.
- We learn that emotions are always going to be there, but eventually, we learn how to handle them in a positive way.
- We get passionate about the art of telling a story that inspires others to join a cause and to become allies of change.
In 2012, I attended my first Latinos in Social Media Conference. On my way to the airport, I never could have imagined where I was headed. We went to the White House, and we had that opportunity to speak up, and I did it. And for the first time in my life, I felt heard. I experienced, on my own, the power of my voice, and I embraced that ability as a superpower for good. I realized that I was not alone. I have grown a lot since then, and today I dare to call myself: A leader and advocate for thousands of Latino parents of children with special needs.
Three years later, I’m getting ready to participate in that same event. There is something even more special about this time. I am attending with my two children. My son was chosen to represent his community at the Latino Summit STEAM Fair. This young man is now a youth and self-advocate representing the voices of Latino children with different abilities.
I couldn’t be more proud of him. I couldn’t be more proud of both of my children. They are breaking stereotypes, not because they are like everyone else, but because by being themselves, they are achieving their own prizes and creating their own happiness.
Thanks, Latism for celebrating diversity and giving my son this life-changing opportunity.