I believe in being an advocate.
When I was younger, I wanted another sibling. As much as I loved my two little brothers, I always wished for a sister. Thankfully at the age of 10, I was finally granted my wish. My parents told me I had a new baby sister on the way. I was also told something else. My sister was going to have something a little extra special about her. She was going to have Down syndrome. As a 4th grader, I didn’t really know much about this. I was mostly just worried, unsure of what Down syndrome would mean for me and what it would mean for my baby sister.
As time progressed and the months flew by, my sister finally came into the world. As soon as I saw Emma’s face, all I could see was perfection. She was beautiful and she was my little sister. I knew in that moment, my life had changed forever.
As I grew up with my little sister, my life did change. I was not who I was before. I matured a lot more quickly than my peers. I became more responsible, aware, and accepting. I rapidly learned Emma was not going to have an easy road ahead of her. She would need therapy, and communication wouldn’t always be easy. Everyday tasks would be harder for her than for others. I also learned that unfortunately in this world, not everyone is accepting of those who may be different from themselves. My mission became to make the world a little bit kinder, a little more accepting, and a little more loving.
Because of Emma, I am not afraid to advocate for what I believe in even if it’s not always easy. As an introverted person, I had to break out of my shell and speak out. I became much more fearless. I gave speeches about my sister and her disability. I gave speeches in classes about ending hate speech, specifically about eliminating the “R-word”. As uncomfortable as that was at times, I could not be afraid of how others would react. I could not let fear stop me from making the world a little easier for my sister to live in.
For the past 10 years I have been an advocate for Emma. I fight for her to be seen as an equal. I fight for her to be accepted by everyone. I hope to see a change in society where kindness and acceptance become second nature. I want to live in a world where I don’t have to plead with others to treat my sister with respect. My hope is for there to be greater empathy towards others with special needs and disabilities. Emma has changed my life for the better. It’s my turn to do the same for her. I believe in being an advocate.