Monday, August 27, 2012

Inclusion Starts at Home.

A few weeks ago we slipped away to Branson, MO for a quick vacation.  While it is not really our favorite place to go, it is an easy place for us to go, which is why we return so often.  The shows are not really our thing, however, that are plenty of things to do in a town that runs on tourism. 

Our condo, and a nice swimming pool, and that was one of the first things on our list.  After a couple other swimming adventures with Ben this summer, one with a life jacket and one without, we decided to pick up a life jacket during our initial trip to the store to stock up on supplies while we were there.  It was a good thing we did.  Ben feels that he must be with his brothers in the deep end of the pool. and has no fear of the water. 

This trip, we decided that it would be a good time to take the boys back to Dixie Stampede. Noah was a baby the last time we went, and did not remember it.   This is Dolly Parton's show, where they serve chicken and pork lion that you eat with your fingers, around an arena where the North challenges the South, over a variety of events.  There were lots of horses and riding, buffalo, long horn cattle, soldiers and girls in pretty dresses.  All three boys LOVED it.  Especially Ben.  Even during the pre-show,  while a 14 year old boy juggled, Ben was glued to the show.  He bounced on my lap, clapped, cheered, and had a wonderful time.  The show is pretty expensive, but it was worth every penny to see the reactions of my kids.  Even our teenager had a great time.  No cameras were allowed, so I don't have any picture, but if I had taken any,  they would have been of Ben and the pure joy he experienced by being included in the fun. 

Putt Putt golf was also on the list.  Unfortunately it was getting hot already the morning that we went.  Ben made it about half way through, and then just sat down in the shade. 

 He still enjoyed just being with the family while we finished the rest of the course.

One of the other favorite activities of my boys while in Branson, has always been the go-carts.  They have carts of all sizes for any driver.  The place was busy when we stopped to get tickets, so I just dropped Randy and the boys off at the office.  I thought he would get a card with some points and then come back to the car and we would plan how to use the ride points.  But after a bit, I saw them all run of to the biggest track.  Ben was asleep, so I parked in the shade down by the medium size track and since it was nice that day, so I had the windows down.  I could hear the recording they had that gave the size restrictions, and rule for 2 drivers.  I know that kids had to be over 36 inches tall to be a passenger, and that Ben fit the criteria.   Ben woke up and was excited,  saying and signing car and please over and over again.  I look over in time to notice Randy and Noah getting off the cars that Ben could ride on, and making a run for the start of the line to go again.  I quick got out my phone to call Randy, and told him that his son would like to ride on the go carts too.  He replied, that Noah was not tall enough to go on the big track that they went to this other track that Noah could ride on.  I said, "Randy, you have another son who would like to ride".  Randy said, "Oh!  I did not even think about him being big enough to ride on these".  We got Ben out and he was so excited. 
I think the look on his face says enough about what he thought about riding on the go-carts.

Every time he went around the track I got the same smile.  It was so sweet.

But what this whole trip has reminded me, is that Ben just wants to be included in everything we do as a family.  Yes there are times, when Ben stays home with one of us, because it is just plain hard sometime to include him.  He is a runner, and will take off in the blink of an eye.  When we do include him, he spends way too much time in a stroller because  the stroller is easy, and it lets us enjoy events.   But what does that teach him?  It certainly does not teach him to stay with us when we are out.    So my goal for this next,month, is to limit the use of the stroller, while continuing to let Ben experience events with the family.  There are so many things that he is big enough to do now, so long as we remember to include him. Besides,  I want to see way more smiles like the one I see above.   It is really priceless.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fifth Time is a Charm

Every year since Ben was born, I have submitted a photo to be shown on the video screen in Times Square in New York, for the National Buddy Walk.  This year his photo was finally chosen! 
Ben will appear in the bright lights of Broadway on Saturday, September 22, as part of the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) annual Times Square Video Presentation, which embodies the NDSS mission to promote the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.
The photo of Ben was selected from over 1,000 entries in the NDSS worldwide call for photos. Over 200 photographs will appear in the video, which will be shown on the News Corporation Sony Screen, located in the heart of Times Square.  

Ben is pictured playing on his big brother’s drum set.  He loves music of all kinds. 
The Times Square video presentation kicks off Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October. The video presentation will be followed by the 18th Annual New York City Buddy Walk® in Central Park. This year, Buddy Walk and Step Up Walk events will be held in more than 300 cities across the country, as well as select international locations, in and around October.   

Our own Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk in Lincoln, NE will be held on October 6, 2012.  Here is a link to Ben's Brigades fundraising page.