In 2015 CLKD’s Infant & Child Development Program started a “support group” for parents raising babies who have Down syndrome. At the time, there were four babies in the area who had been born with ‘designer genes’ and we thought getting the parents together to talk, navigate the journey, and discuss the future would be a good idea.

Little did we know that it would become much more than a support group, it would become an active community of dynamic parent advocates ready to tackle conversations about inclusion and awareness in the area. These parents and their now-busy toddlers have brought a new level of disability education to the Kincardine area, showing people that we are all more alike than we are different, and that everybody ultimately wants the same things in life. This group has also added lots of smiles and laughter to the lives of those they have touched.

This group, affectionately called the “Homies with Extra Chromies”, has now grown to support families from other nearby communities and is always welcoming new parents who are celebrating the journey of raising a child with Down syndrome. In an effort to reach youngsters growing up in Kincardine who may not have knowledge and experience with people who have disabilities, the Homies with Extra Chromies have gone and visited many local schools to talk about Down syndrome, inclusion, anti-bullying, treating others the way you would like to be treated, and seeing beyond labels and limitations. The babies were very popular guests for speaking engagements!

When looking for further ways to educate youngsters in the area, the Infant & Child Development Program and the Homies parents began looking at children’s books on the topic. When they couldn’t find a picture book that quite used the wording they wanted, and didn’t quite share the message they were looking for, they decided to go ahead and write their own book!

It has definitely proven to be a learning experience, and quite the labour of love. The original four families in the group, the McIvers, the Lawrences, the Grahams and the Purdons, along with the Infant & Child Development Coordinator, Jenny Raspberry, shared ideas back and forth, wording and re-wording pages until it expressed the ideas they were looking for. Jenny then reached out to an old-friend from the Kincardine area who had always been a talented artist. Sarah Diebel, now living in Toronto, donated her time and talent to illustrate the book and was thrilled to be asked to be a part of the project.

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