Life can be very challenging, especially if you give birth to a child with special needs. But, it does not mean that your child will not have a meaningful life. A typical example of that is Kennedy who has Down syndrome, yet she enjoys life like any other teenager.
This condition is manifested with cognitive delays that can be mild to moderate, but this does not refer to the skills and talents a person may develop with Down syndrome.
They can still have almost “normal’ lives, attend work or school, develop meaningful relationships, start a family, and contribute to society in various ways. Naturally, this can be achieved if they have the support of their family, friends and community, good health care, a stimulating home environment, and high-quality educational programs. Thanks to these factors their life expectancy has become longer in the recent decades.
Here is the amazing story of Kennedy:
Her mother gave birth to her 15 years ago, when she was told that her baby would have no quality of life, being born with Down syndrome. Renee, from Colorado Springs, was excited when she heard that she has baby girl, but the predictions of doctors were not good, considering that she had the Down syndrome. They advised her to put her baby in an institution, or “just give her up for adoption.”
Renee was devastated of the news as she had no idea what this condition means, but deep down in her heart, she knew that her daughter, Kennedy, will succeed.
“The night Kennedy arrived, I was heartbroken to learn she had the condition because I was being fed nothing but a negative, bleak picture painted by doctors and nurses who really had no idea what my child‘s future really held.”
The first 24 hours after the delivery were horrible for Renee, but a midwife, also a mother restored her faith and hope.
“It was only the next night when a kind midwife told me Kennedy was beautiful and just like her daughter, who also had the condition, that I felt a glimmer of hope.
The first thing I asked was if her daughter could walk because I really didn’t know what having the condition meant, and she just laughed. Her daughter was 16 and of course she could walk.’
On Kennedy’s first birthday, Renee came to the hospital and visited the labor ward leaving a special care package for new mothers of babies with Down syndrome. She wanted to give something to these mothers and restore their faith in the unique beauty of their babies. The packages consisted of set of books about Down syndrome so that they could understand this disorder better.
Renee explained her gesture:
“I left my contact details there and begged the midwives to pass my card on to new mothers of children like Kennedy. Many reached out to me over the years because of that basket and I hope having a positive conversation with me and hearing everything Kennedy has achieved, saved those moms from the unnecessary trauma and anguish I went through.”
Kennedy is leading a fulfilling life as teenager and competes in state-wide dance competitions. She even recovered from a serious disease, leukemia and she did it with great zeal and bravery.
Renee recalled her fight against leukemia:
“Kennedy tolerated hospitalization and medical procedures well, never failing to smile. During her recovery in the halo, she spent a lot of time watching dance videos and as soon as she was well enough, I took Kennedy to her first dance class.”
Today, Kennedy is a successful young model with Down syndrome, working for top brands. She has a meaningful social life with friends and with her boyfriend Matthew, who also has Down syndrome. They both often go to the cinema and watch their favorite movies.
‘He came straight over, handed Kennedy his mobile and said, “I think my phone’s broken because it’s missing your number.”
Because of her modeling job Kennedy she often flies to New York and Hollywood, and up to now she has modeled for Disney, American Girl, and Justice Clothing; in addition to this, she signed with KMR Diversity and Dream Talent Management.
Kennedy is not the only child in the family, she has siblings, Kassidy, 20, Kameron, 18, and Keegan, 12, with whom she is very attached.
“She has brought so much joy and laughter into our lives and has grown into a gorgeous, funny young woman with the world at her feet.”
Nowadays, Renee feels great joy and pride for her daughter being able to lead a fulfilling life, but she cannot still forget the sad moments after her birth when the prognosis of the doctors was far from good. So, she decided that something needs to be done more about the misconception of this disorder. She and Kennedy often tour around schools to teach children of all ages about Down syndrome, and offer support to people who have this condition.
Renee reflects on this issue:
“It’s shocking how misinformed they all were, and it was only 15 years ago. I feel sad that I wasted time grieving for moments like prom dress shopping as I really had been led to believe none of the normal milestones would be reached.
The fact that these teachers and schools are even giving her the opportunity to come in and speak shows how much progress has been made in recent years.”
“Kennedy is pretty much accepted wherever we go. Most of all they see that she is a pretty typical teen who loves to text her friends, hang out at the mall, make videos on Tik Tok and talk about boys.
I just want her to be happy with wherever her life takes her. I have no doubt she will continue to grow into an independent, strong, amazing adult whether she is acting, modeling, going to college, public speaking or finds her passion elsewhere in the workplace. I just hope she continues to live her best life no matter what.”