Sharon Crowley, Founder of The T21 Hub
On a mission to change people’s attitudes towards Down Syndrome
When I became pregnant with my first child, I’d just been accepted as a full-time Maths tutor at the local college. A bank manager beforehand, I decided to change careers and restudied and qualified as a tutor. After achieving that goal, I was on cloud nine; Ellie, however, was born with Down Syndrome.
There had been no signs during the pregnancy, so it was a huge shock when we heard the news. The first time I encountered a negative and outdated stance towards a person with Down Syndrome was two hours after my daughter was born. As the paediatrician went through a checklist to confirm the diagnosis, he repeated the word ‘mongoloid’ as the boxes got ticked. Changing attitudes and educating people on the correct use of language and terminologies has been my mission ever since that distressing experience.
Two weeks later, we discovered that Ellie had a massive hole in her heart and would require round-the-clock care initially, with many medical appointments to follow. As Ellie grew and I became a mum again a few years later to my son Billy, I gradually transitioned to the role of full-time carer in the best interests of my family.
I founded The T21 Hub this year to create a resource for families to seek information, ask questions and become part of a welcoming and understanding community. In addition, I’ve also launched a closed Facebook group called the North Manchester Down Syndrome Support Group, where parents can share details about events taking place which their children can attend and enjoy.
One of my biggest achievements this year was forming a partnership with Bury2gether – a forum for parents and carers of children and young people with SEND. Together we have opened a youth club for teenagers with additional needs. The first get-together took place just recently and the feedback we received was absolutely incredible.
Another recent achievement was becoming a co-ordinator for the Mums in Business Association, which has enabled me to share my vision and help mums do the same.
Through the power of social media, my website, blogging and collaboration with others, my mission is coming true.
With my book due out soon, watch this space!