Sunday, August 19, 2007

Count Us In

Welcome back friends.

Thursday, a couple of weeks ago, we went to see a presentation by two 30+ years old men with Down syndrome. These two men, Jason Kingsley and Mitchell Levitz are quite well known in the DS world for their (and their parents) amazing accomplishments both in their personal lives and on behalf of the entire DS and disabled community.

Perhaps their most valuable accomplishment was to write a book about living with Down syndrome. The book was originally published when Jason was 19 and Mitchell 22 years old.
It has recently been reprinted with a new afterward by the authors to include any new knowledge or wisdom collected over the past twelve years.
I've read and reread many of the wonderful pieces of this book and there are many great lessons in it but I think that if one were to sum the book up in just a few words this is what it's about:
Jason, Mitchell (and all people with Down syndrome) want you to know that they are regular people. They have feelings like you and me. They have dreams like you and me. They even fool around like you and me. These are regular hearts and minds, with feelings and thoughts, bottled up in a body with a disability. They hurt from it, it is not easy for them. However, given the right opportunities they will grow and blossom into wonderful, productive members of our society.
I think this sums up their message.
One of the wonderful things I noticed at the presentation is that people with Down syndrome have personalities just like you and me. Jason is a fun loving, happy go lucky guy and his outlook on life with DS is highly influenced by his passion for fun and games.
Mitchell on the other hand is the intellectual type. He's the kind of guy who is very well thought out, very practical, down to earth, not given to fantasies. Of course he expresses more of the pain and frustration people with disabilities feel. To this end Mitchell sits on community boards and government committees helping to change some of the current legislation regarding disabled and retarded people.
They are both living the lives they were born to live, Jason with a light job and a fun an games personal life (see below the picture of Jason and his housemates who call themselves "The Three Musketeers".) while Mitchell is, for all practical purposes a lawyer, a politician.
After the show we picked up a copy of their book "Count Us In- rowing Up With Down Syndrome" and got it personalized and signed by the authors. They wrote, "To Mendele a dear friend" and signed it.
And here they are holding their dear friend Mendele.

A real Kodak moment.Jason and his Housemates, "The Three Musketeers".
By the way, Jason Kingsley is the son of Emily Perl Kingsley, the author of "Welcome to Holland".
p.s. I suggest that parents read the book before allowing their children to, because many aspects of life are discussed quite openly.


Peri said...
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Anonymous said...

Wow! What an informative and inspirational blog. Sometimes I feel like I am cheating because I check the blog and don't comment. The blog is awesome. You guys are amazing parents, and Mendele is the cutest child ever (Although the past few times I have been over, he is sleeping. If you ever are having trouble puting him to sleep, call me and he'll be asleep before I even come) Good Shabbos!

chana'le said...

WOW!!! where was this presentation? how did you hear about it and about these men? and their parents - where do they live?

Rivky Friedman said...

They both live in Westchester,NY. We heard about it through an ad in The Jewish Week (a NY paper) It was really amazing!

anyone's MOTHERS said...

GOOD FOR YOU, JASON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shmuli said...

Wow! Do we have the honor of Jason's Mom commenting on Mendele's blog?
We're so glad that you've visited our site.