I am often quite surprised at the demand magazines and newspapers, even radio stations have for our story, don’t get me wrong I appreciate the coverage and will take each and every opportunity to raise awareness and attempt to dispel some or any of the myths, but in my eyes we are a small family living our life and doing what other families do.
The magazine requests tend to be from women’s magazines and want to focus upon Jodi’s view of the world and the journey she is on. They often get a little bit of poetic licence and emphasise certain parts or aspects of our lives, which we don’t mind, we do however always ensure we are given the opportunity to read the article before it is published.
We were absolutely bowled over when on the 10th July we had a double page spread in the Sun newspaper. This really raised the profile and was a really well written story. From here we got a number of requests and judged each one on its merits however my morale’s got in the way of a certain national newspaper featuring us. This particular newspaper has a way of upsetting our community, twisting stories to portray a life of sympathy and disappointment. The week before they had run a story about a lady who had regretted not aborting her son for 40 something years. The story and the way it was written left me very upset, as it did a number of our friends living lives similar to ours. There was no way I was going to be involved in a story which would seem like backlash etc or me attempting to justify my girls. This simply wouldn’t happen! I will never get involved in a “Justification” debate as this perpetuates the view that you must have a reason for allowing your child to be born, that is ridiculous and serves absolutely no purpose.
Anyway, leading on from this story, Jodi was invited to do an article for “Take a Break” magazine. They were excellent I believe, speaking with Jodi on a regular basis, making changes from the draft stories and eventually publishing a really nice, positive story. They had asked for some photographs of the girls to accompany the article and with the blessing of Amy Russell Photography, we provided some of the pictures from the recent photo-shoot.
We knew the date and we were ready to get copies for parents, grandparents etc etc. What we didn’t expect was to be tagged in a Facebook status by the girls godmother, the evening prior to release, where Take-A-Break had publicised their upcoming publication. It wasn’t a problem and we shared a good smile. There was a few comments within the first few minutes about how adorable the girls were and how their smiles were infectious. At this stage we love to see who is commenting and writing on the page. We really appreciate people who take the time to make a comment or “like” anything that involves the girls, it is a really humbling experience when people go out of their way to get in contact very whatever method.
The “likes” grew and grew as did the comments. It got to the stage that simply refreshing the page every second there would be another 5 or 6 likes. I remembering saying to Jodi, this will clear 1000 likes!!! How wrong could I be. As we woke up the next day it had past 100,000 and was still growing at an incredible rate. We cleared 250,000, ONE QUARTER OF A MILLION PEOPLE had taken the time to acknowledge our girls. I was amazed.
Anyway, I was talking to a colleague at work that afternoon and she said have you seen the post, I said how honoured we were that we had ¼ million likes. She said ¼ million…you’ve gone past ½ million!!!! I was back into the checking each hour to see where we were at, could we do it?? Could we break a million. We did it!!!! The post broke 1 million likes, what an achievement, our story had gone viral!!!! It really gives you hope that life and society can be changed. People are genuinely interested, Down’s Syndrome is no longer taboo, the girls are not hidden away as an embarrassment they are being given the freedom to enjoy the world like any other child. We cherish every moment we spend in their company and know people all around the world had seen our pride.
This story was run in November so obviously as we approached the New Year the excitement has subsided and we had marked it off as a fantastic achievement. However, as you can imagine on social networks we have a lot of friends who we share stories with, grow up alongside, seek advice from and gain strength from. You can imagine our surprise when, on New Years Eve, one of our “friends” posted a link to that weeks edition. It was titled “The Twins that Touched the World” It focussed on a group of families stories about Down’s Syndrome and each had a really positive message. Where has this title come from? And then the penny dropped. The article featured my girls, the fact that hitting 1million likes had been recognised by “Take A Break” and almost in a Review of the year, they had contacted other families and got their stories.
What a huge step forward!! A double page spread in a national magazine where a number of stories showing the positivity DS can bring to people’s lives. There must be a demand for education and awareness, people are wanting to know about the condition and the impact it can have. Completely and utterly amazed and full of gratitude for Take A Break for running the story originally and then doing so much in the follow up to promote Down’s Syndrome in such a positive light.