Getting fit together as a family!

Getting fit together as a family!

Looking to shed some of that baby weight? Is the man of the house desperate to rid himself of the cursed ‘Dad bod’? Are the kids spending a little more time on the sofa than you’d like? The truth is that whatever your lifestyle and fitness level and whatever age your kids, there are always some fun ways in which you can get in shape together as a family. The endorphin hit of exercise combined with spending quality time together as a family can lead families to come closer together as they help each other towards their fitness goals. Plus, anything that keeps kids active and entertained without breaking the bank can only ever be a plus!

Stuttgart family fitness

                    Image by Flickr

If you’re looking for a free alternative to an expensive gym membership or just want to do more together as a family, there are a huge range of activities from free swimming pool games for kids to mother and baby exercises that are fun and accessible for the whole family while not costing a penny. Let us take you on a guided tour…

Babycises

For new parents, using your baby as a weight to improve strength and muscle tone might seem weird but there is a range of exercises that can not only provide good resistance training for both Mums and Dads but provide baby-friendly movements that will have them cooing with delight. Favourites include:

  •  Baby curls- A variation on the classic crunch. Lying face up, bring your knees up and gently place baby on your shins. Curl by contracting your abs to raise your head and shoulders bringing you nose to nose with baby. Feel free to combine with a little kiss. Try this for 3 sets of 15-20 reps.
  • Baby shoulder press- Sit cross-legged on the floor holding your baby in front of your head. Lift baby up over your head and enjoy their delighted giggles while you feel the burn. Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps.
  •  Baby bench press- Lie on your back with knees bent and bring baby up to your face. Extend your arms before bringing baby slowly back to the start position. Again aim for 3 sets of 10.

Hot couch potato

There’s nothing wrong with settling down together to watch some TV but who says it has to be at the expense of the family’s fitness? Turn ad breaks into muscle-toning breaks by playing this game for 2-3 minutes. Stand with feet a shoulder width apart and squat down so that your collective butts hover about an inch above the couch. Hold this position for as long as you can, imagining that the sofa has become white hot. If your kids like playing ‘the floor is lava’ they’ll love this!

Homework hijack

Kids can always use a break from homework. It allows their brains a chance to reboot and aids their productivity. Why not use those breaks to boost your cardiovascular fitness as a family? Take 3-5 minutes to race each other up and down stairs or running laps of the block together. They’ll return to their homework with their fitness boosted and concentration levels improved.

By taking a few minutes out of every day to exercise together (even if it’s just a brisk walk) you’ll get fitter while bonding together.

 

 

What will your children inherit?

What will your children inherit?

No parent wants to think the worst, but each of us should consider our children’s lives after we’re gone. Our legacy to them is important, especially if something happens to us while they are still young. No matter where you are in your life right now, having children does make you think of the future. Do you ever consider what your children might inherit from you?

Your genetic makeup is just one thing that your children will inherit from you that might be evident from the moment they are born. This is one of the fun things about parenting – seeing a little of yourself and your partner in your kids. Of course, they might inherit any genetic problems too. You can help prepare and even protect your kids if you inform yourself about your conditions now. Read up, ask questions, and find out all you can so your children can use that information to make important lifestyle changes.

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Your children might also inherit some of your views and your outlook on life. If you are an active and engaged person, then there is every chance your children will adopt that approach to life too. They say you should lead by example, and perhaps that is more important than we think. Your kids will look up to you, and they will learn from you. They’ll adopt your faith, and they’ll move in your social circles. Can you give them any more than that?

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When we think of inheritance, we think of money, assets, and property. If you have children, it’s important you make a Will that clearly defines how you wish your assets to be divided. Your next of kin might also inherit your debts. This is why life insurance is so important. It is designed primarily to clear your mortgage. If you read the blog posts at lifeinsurancequote.co you’ll see you can also ensure your kids pick up a cash sum to cover other costs like the funeral and outstanding bills. Perhaps you want to leave a lump sum for their future?

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Do you have any passions or talents in life? Whether your kids share them or not, they will remember you for your love of them. It might be nice to leave a memento or something tangible that represents that passion. If your relationship with their other parent broke down, then you need to consider any items that might be precious to them too. Of course, it is also important to declare your intentions for those items you held so dear. Your Will isn’t just about who gets what. You can also determine what is to be done with those items. It will help avoid any guilt should your kids choose to sell the things you leave them.

What will happen to the home where you raised your children? If you have more than one child, then chances are the property will need to be sold so the assets can be divided fairly. There will be dozens of wonderful memories they can take with them, of course. You might also have collections of photos or other mementos you kept from when they were young. What would you like to leave for your family?

Inexpensive entertainment: Keeping kids occupied on a budget!

Inexpensive entertainment: Keeping kids occupied on a budget!

Keeping kids entertained is huge deal when it comes to parenting. Kids don’t keep their attention on one thing for long and can get easily bored- and aren’t afraid to let you know about it either! As parents, we have to find the balance between letting kids get on with their own activities such as playing on the computer or watching tv so we can get things done around the house, and ensure that they’re spending enough time being active and learning. On top of this, getting out and about can often be quite expensive, so if you’re not working with a huge budget, it can leave you a little stuck for ideas. But no need to fret, here are some ideas you can do with little ones when you don’t have a lot to spend.

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                                 Photo sourced from this site

Go on Hikes and Bike Rides

Family hikes and bike rides are a great way to get some family bonding time in. You get to do some light exercise and you teach kids to appreciate the outdoors. Do you live near countryside, woods, meadows or a river? Take a stroll together or pull your bikes out of the shed. Enjoy the last of the mild weather before fall brings rain and chilly air. You could look online for different nature trails and follow one, you could even take a picnic and sit and enjoy an alfresco meal together. Make daisy chains, roll down hills and just generally enjoy each other’s company. It’s these simple, silly little moments that make it all worth it. What you will all look back on in years to come with fond memories.

Walk Around Nature Parks and Garden

Another type of place that’s fun to walk around and visit are parks and gardens. These are nicely maintained and often have things like play areas for kids, nicely landscaped flowers and foliage and plenty of space to run around with a ball or frisbee. You could go bird watching together, take some photos and feed the ducks. Usually, these kinds of places are free to enter, you might just need to pay a small fee for parking if you arrive by car.

Go to a Farm

While zoos are a lot of fun, they can be surprisingly expensive. Have a look at ticket prices for your closest zoo or safari park, and if you’ve not been for a while, you might be shocked at the price. Farms, on the other hand, are usually very cheap, sometimes even free. You, of course, won’t get the same mixture of exotic animals, but you and the kids will still get to see and interact with all kinds of critters. Some offer things like feeding and holding baby animals, bird shows, tours and more. It’s a chance to see and appreciate animals in person and makes for a fun activity to spend a morning or afternoon.

Enjoy The Beach

While the weather is still fairly warm, you could go to the beach and enjoy all it has to offer. Splash in the sea, go swimming or snorkeling. If this is a hobby the kids like to do every year, you could look into gifts for snorkeling for their next birthday or Christmas and kit them out. A mask and a wetsuit would both be needed to enjoy the hobby. Even once the weather has cooled down a bit you could still walk on the beach, maybe bring your dog along too. Play beach volleyball, frisbee and collect seashells together. If we get another sunny weekend before the fall weather kicks in, bring along a disposable barbeque. They’re only cheap, a few inexpensive staples like sausages and burgers and you have a fun meal to enjoy outdoors.

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                Photo sourced from this site

Visit a Museum or Gallery

Museums and art galleries are interesting and give kids an appreciation of history and culture. It’s another way to learn that isn’t based in the classroom and can really help them to develop an interest in this area. In many museums there are exhibits just for children, offering fun interactive areas which will grab and keep their interest. Best of all, museums and galleries are completely free to enter- and they’re indoors too. So perfect for an inexpensive rainy day activity, all you’d need is petrol to get there or bus fare if it’s not walking distance. There are museums about history, space, dinosaurs, animals and so much more- they’re always a fascinating experience.

Rent a Bouncy Castle

This is another good one for making the most of the last bit of good weather in the year. One weekend, why not hire a bouncy castle for your back garden? It’s great exercise and will tire kids out and be a whole lot of fun, an easy way to get them out of your hair leaving you to get on with whatever you need to do about the house. It doesn’t have to be a birthday or special occasion, kids bouncy castles are usually fairly cheap. If you have siblings or friends with kids around the same age, you could all even chip in and pay a small amount each. They will have a fantastic time, and it’s far cheaper than other activities that won’t keep them half as interested.

Go Camping

Going on family vacations are what memories are made of, however, they don’t come cheap. Whether you want an extra getaway in the year or this will be your main family holiday, camping is the ideal choice. You could rent a caravan or RV or take it back to basics and take a tent. You get to teach kids about the great outdoors- collecting firewood and building a fire, foraging for berries, setting up a tent and so much more. You could enjoy a tasty barbeque dinner each night, roast marshmallows and sing songs around the campfire. Sleeping out under the stars and having these kinds of outdoor experiences are great for kids, keeps them entertained, active and don’t cost much.

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                Photo sourced from this site

Do Some Baking

A fun indoor activity that most kids love is baking. These are tonnes of simple recipes online for cakes or cookies you could follow, or you could even buy a box mix and mainly focus on the decorating side of things. Chances are you already have the staples you need in your kitchen, but eggs, flour, butter, icing sugar and some sprinkles won’t cost much and will do you for lots of different occasions baking. Teach them how to carefully weigh out ingredients and how to mix thoroughly. How to set the temperature on the oven along with the timer. These skills are all useful and help to teach them precision. Once you’re done you can have fun with the creative side, decoration. Icing pens, sprinkles and other edible decorations all work well- and as a bonus, you get to eat what you’ve made afterward.

Discover a New Hobby

Hobbies are so useful for adults and children alike. It gives you passion and purpose, helps you to improve skills and connect with like-minded people. A hobby could be anything from collecting things (something most children love to do), gardening, writing, photography- anything to keep their mind occupied. You probably already have the things you need at home to get them started. Plus, hobbies teach the sorts of things that are not taught in the classroom. It keeps young minds curious and is a fantastic, productive way for kids to spend their time. Try and discover hobbies that you can do together, as well as things they can do independently. That way if you’re busy and have other things you need to do, they can get on with it independently.

Throw a Slumber Party

Slumber parties might be hard work, but they’re fun for kids and allow fantastic bonding time between friends. For girls, you could give them some nail polish, makeup, face masks and magazines along with plenty of movies to watch. For boys, you could set up a games console or encourage them to play some board games. You could get some inexpensive crafts from hobby stores for them to do, and cook up a big pizza for everyone to share. It costs hardly anything but fun for kids and something they will always appreciate.

Keeping kids entertained is hard work, but having a couple of ideas for budget things to do both in and out of the house is useful. That way if you start going stir crazy or the kids have been in front of their screens for too long you have a few tricks up your sleeve for keeping them entertained. You don’t have to keep hearing them wail ‘I’m bored, ’ and you get peace of mind that they’re learning, staying active or both.

What are your favorite budget activities to keep kids entertained? Is there anything that’s not on this list which you would recommend to parents looking to entertain kids without having to spend a lot of money?

 

Letting go and moving on…from neglected toys.

Letting go and moving on…from neglected toys.

Do you have a hard time getting your kids to let go of stuff? Even though they haven’t worn or played with something for ages, and have mostly even forgotten it exists, they’re resistant to get rid of it. No amount of reasoned and logical arguments will get them to let go, and it’s frustrating for both you and them. If you’re struggling to get them to give up something they no longer use, there are some things you can do about it. Here are a few methods you can try to get them to change their mindset.

 

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                Max Pixel

Do Regular Clear-outs

One of the first things you can do is regularly clear out your home. Don’t just do the kids stuff, but do your things too. You can turn it into something that’s routine, and not a huge ordeal that you have to go through once a year or so. You could even make it into a game, or make it a chore that your child gets a reward for completing. The more you do it, the more it will just be something that you sometimes do. You can let your child have some control over the process, just as long as they get rid of a couple of things each time.

Sell Stuff for Money

If you don’t mind encouraging a love for money and maybe a little bit of materialism, mentioning that you can sell things for money could be a good idea. You might already give your child an allowance, or maybe they’re saving up for something. You can encourage them to let go of things by mentioning that the profits could buy them something new. You can use websites where you can get cash for old electronics, toys, and other items. Or you could choose an old-fashioned yard sale. Your kid could learn some skills from helping with the sale of their things too.

Encourage Giving to Charity

Not all children are immediately receptive to the idea of charity. Empathy takes time to develop, so don’t be surprised if the suggestion that a toy goes to another deserving child is met with resistance. But plenty of children are open to making kind gestures for others and clearing out your home is a great time to encourage charity. It gives you an opportunity to talk about those less fortunate than you and give your child a wider perspective of the world.

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Discourage Materialism

If you’re unhappy with how materialistic your child seems to be, you might want to take some steps to change that. There are ways you can try to get them to look at the world differently and care less about material things. Some parents try to avoid showing adverts on TV and other places to their kids. This can help because they’re not being told about the next best thing that they need to have – at least, not by the TV. You can also try to encourage different types of play, like imaginative play outdoors, where toys aren’t necessarily needed.

There are a few different ways to approach the situation if you have a child who’s very attached to their things. Don’t let them rule the roost if you’re determined to free up some space.

How do you encourage good “toy habits” in your kids?

 

Hello happy teeth!

Hello happy teeth!

Back to school means back to morning hallway rush-hour where screaming will be heard, arguments will be had and shoes will be lost. All in hopes of making it out the door on time and presenting ourselves to the outside world as clean, well groomed, matching, productive members of elementary school society. (Hopefully.)

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For us, one of the things that seems to be the most difficult (either before bed of before school) was the daunting chore of brushing the teeth. Is it the toothpaste? The back and forth action? Or is it the spitting? I’m not sure but whatever it is, my five-year-old is not a fan.

So when I opened this months Savvy Sassy Scout box for back to school season, I was so so happy to see three tubes of Hello Products toothpaste for kids. With all the fanfare in their debut it was hard to miss when this awesome line came to stores but I hadn’t had a chance yet to try them out. I can see now what everyone was raving about since they taste good (which kids love) coming in delicious flavors like bubblegum, blueberry, green apple and mango mint and yet are free from artificial sweeteners, flavors or dyes.  On top of all that they have now been awarded the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance, which means it’s clinically proven to fight cavities and strengthen enamel.

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All of this means happy kids and happy moms.

I am happy to report that it now only takes me yelling “Go brush your teeth!” once to get the job done. Progress! We’ve even made a game out of it, Audrey will go brush her teeth and when she comes back I have to smell her breath and guess which toothpaste she used. It’s win-win all over the place.

What fun tricks do you use to get your kids to do what you want?

 

 

 

 

YOU’RE doing GREAT!

So the other day I walked past the bathroom mirror and almost passed out at the sight of my own grossness. Yes, it happens to the best of us. As I sit here I am currently un-showered and actively avoiding the pile of laundry over in that direction. Don’t look.

This horrific reality and my realization that Pinterest is just there to make me feel bad about myself, has prompted me to stop being so hard on myself and give me a good ‘ol pat on the dirty sweaty back….

And I’m giving you one too! I’m over on KidsGoals.com handing out virtual hugs and cookies and telling you that YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB, MOM!

A Mother’s Story: Down Syndrome

A Mother’s Story: Down Syndrome

I have always loved to have guest writers here on my blog to highlight other mothers in an effort to educate and enlighten not only myself, but all you wonderful people as well. Today we are hearing from my husband’s cousin who at exactly 2 weeks to the day after my Audrey was born, their family welcomed little Lacey into the world. This is the first time Kelley has spoken so candidly and openly about what it was like to hear the diagnosis and how it changed their family forever. At the end I am including the speech her 11-year-old daughter Sydney wrote about her baby sister for a school speech contest…and it won first place. 

I was shocked when Nicole asked me to write this post for her blog because let’s just say writing is not my thing. I was also nervous because I didn’t want people to get the wrong idea about how I felt about my daughter the day she was born.  But I feel there are other parents in the world that need to know it’s ok to have certain thoughts, feelings and fears when it comes to having a child with special needs. And know that regardless of her diagnosis, you will love your child unconditionally and take on anyone that will doubt her abilities.

Let me be very clear here, I have loved my daughter from the first time I found out I was going to be a mother for the third time, but the time after her birth was probably one of the hardest I have had to endure (with the exception of the recent loss of my father). This is my story on how I dealt with my daughter being born with Down syndrome.

March 24, 2010 at 6:31 PM I became a member of “The Club” as my friend Kelli likes to say. It’s not a club I planned to become a member of and it’s a club that caused me many tears that first year after becoming a member. You see, that night I gave birth to a healthy baby girl with Down syndrome.

To say it was a total shock would be a lie, you see 20 weeks before that night I received a call in my office from my doctor to say that my QUAD screen was positive giving me a possible 1 in 90 chance that my unborn baby would be born with Down Syndrome. At this point the doctor needed to know what I wanted to do since I had refused all genetic testing at the beginning of my pregnancy. Please know that abortion was never a thought in my mind and thankfully I had a wonderful doctor who never once suggested that I abort my baby. My husband and I had decided on genetic counseling and then genetic ultrasound, from there we would decide if we wanted more testing.

The week before Thanksgiving we went for our genetic counseling and genetic ultrasound. I had prepared myself with a list of questions I could ask regarding terms like nuchal fold thickness, cardiac abnormalities, duodenal atresia, hyprechogenic bowel, bilateral renal pyelectosis, brachiocephaly, or choriod plexus cysts. All markers that were typically seen with an unborn baby with Down syndrome.

We had already had a regular ultrasound but we never were able to find out the sex because this baby was very active. Throughout, I kept saying ‘an active baby is a healthy baby!’ And I couldn’t help but laugh when they told my husband Jeff and I that we will be adding another daughter to the two we already had. We never cared if it was a boy or girl, we just wanted our baby to be healthy and because they did not find any strong or soft markers we decided not to have a risky amino.

I wish I could say I enjoyed my last 20 weeks of my third pregnancy but that would be a lie. My gut instinct told me to be prepared even though the only thing that was positive was my QUAD screen. I worried myself sick those last 20 weeks. I was sick all the time, I gained a significant amount of weight and cried a lot in the shower.

The day I went into labor with my baby girl I had pink eye and bronchitis. I delivered via c-section and when the nurse brought Lacey Catherine into the recovery room I knew that my world would forever be changed. I would never be the same person that had walked into that hospital just four hours ago, laughing carelessly about the crazy day we had. No, I was now going to be a mother with a child with special needs and I would never again look at things the same. Words that never bothered me before would make my skin crawl because I now had a daughter with Down syndrome.

I didn’t want to open my mouth and say anything because then I knew it would all really be true and I didn’t want it to be. I didn’t want to join “the club”. I just remember feeling like the recovery room was getting smaller and smaller with each breath I was taking and my anxiety was taking over. I wanted to get up and run away pretending this day never happened but because of the spinal block I couldn’t move. I thought if I could just close my eyes I would wake up and hopefully this nightmare was over.

All of our immediate family got to see Lacey and no one said anything so I thought maybe I was crazy and she was normal. Even Jeff had stayed quiet. But when I saw the look on the nurse’s face and the doctor came to talk with us I knew what he was going to say. At that point I just wanted to scream, cry, hit something and argue that the ultrasounds didn’t show anything.

I was in total shock and I couldn’t stop thinking about how everyone would react to the news. I remember thinking how she will be treated differently, all because she has this extra chromosome. People will not love her the way they love her sisters. Will they even want to hold her? Will she know if they are not comfortable with a baby with Down syndrome? I didn’t want people to make fun of my daughter or call her “retarded” or whatever other horrific things people say. I don’t want people to look at me with pity because I had a baby born with an extra chromosome. I remember being wheeled to my room and I kept saying to myself, “You are not going to cry” because Lacey’s sisters will not understand why their mother would be so upset.

My sister-in-law took the girls out of the room, so we could tell other family members the news. I never did cry in front of anyone, I felt I had to show I was strong and that I could handle this. I remember looking at my husband and it was the first time I saw him cry and it broke my heart into a million pieces because I feared it meant he wouldn’t love her.  Man, how wrong I was. Jeff cried because the ultrasounds never showed anything was wrong and he was angry. But he soon shook it off and from that day on he has been totally in love with his little miracle. Jeff has said we can handle anything they throw at us, so we know Lacy will be fine because we are her parents. I remember thinking all she needs is love from us and everything else will fall into place.

Soon after she was born there was a concern from the Doctor about Lacey and I remember hearing the word Leukemia being said. I was in such a daze I didn’t understand, but basically the Doctor said that Lacey’s white blood cell count was up and that she was also showing immature white blood cells in her blood and her platelet count was low.

In the end, Lacey’s body fought back and her counts went back to normal but my greatest fear is because of this my daughter now has a 30% increased risk for developing a type of Leukemia called nonlymphoid by the time she is three years old. We recently had her tested early and at this time her blood count is normal. I can deal with her extra chromosome but I can’t imagine watching my baby girl go through chemotherapy. That is a bridge we will pray we never have to cross. The other issue we had during her first 6 months of life was trying to keep weight up. She had lost almost 2 pounds and we had to go to the Doctor every week. It’s funny to say now but we would cheer if she gained an ounce. Then we went to Florida when she was 6 weeks old at which time she gained 2 pounds while we were gone and from there she continued to gradually gain weight.

Lacey was also born with a few heart defects but at 6 months of age her PDA finally closed which meant no heart surgery. There were many other tests we had to have that first year: hearing, vision, blood work to check her thyroid. These test she continues to have every 6 months. It seemed like the time we would spend that first year at Dayton Children’s Hospital in Dayton Ohio would never end. At four weeks old Lacy began seeing a developmental specialist for physical and occupational therapy and continues to receive these therapies in addition to speech therapy.

The whole first year there are a lot of things we had to learn and go through which at times were very confusing and frustrating. I didn’t join a support group, because that is not my thing, but I know for a lot of people it’s helpful. I am just not a ‘support group’ kind of person and chose my own way of dealing with what my family was going though.

One of my best friends happens to be the President of the Miami Valley Down Syndrome Association and she has been an amazing support system for me. I also started to research and read different books regarding Down syndrome. One that I found that helped me with the guilt I was feeling over my own emotions was The Year My Son and I Were Born: A Story of Down Syndrome, Motherhood and Self-Discovery by Katheryn Lynard Soper.

Reading all the information you are given is a great help but honestly, I could live with out the scary stuff that may, or may not, happen to my daughter. I just wanted to enjoy her and I was afraid that maybe reading everything would take that away. It can be overwhelming all the things you need to be aware of but we have truly been blessed with the state of Lacey’s health.

People should not mistake having Down Syndrome with not being healthy.  My daughter is very healthy. She has met a lot of her milestones and in some areas she has surpassed them. She rolled over at the age of 2 ½ weeks and never stopped. She walked by 17 months. She said “love you” at seven months to her dad. I laugh because they have always said “she will be slow” but anyone that knows my daughter knows that being slow is just not in her, she has one speed; fast. Her biggest delay has been in her speech but sign language has helped with the lack of verbal skills.

Lacey is an amazing child and I used to feel guilt over the many tears I cried because of her diagnosis but in the end it was because of the ideas that society has placed on people with Down syndrome, that sadly, I also believed. Once she entered our lives and showed us a new way to live I don’t believe that way anymore and I will take on anyone that even thinks about doubting my daughter’s abilities.

I am a one Mama Bear you don’t want to mess with when it comes to my baby girl. Lacey has more determination than any child I know and she is out to prove to everyone that she is not a Down syndrome child but a beautiful little girl who just happens to have Down Syndrome. It’s so hard to believe it’s been almost three years since I received news that my daughter may be different. The thought of that scared me more than anything in this world, but since that time there have been so many other things in daily life that have changed that perception. I now realize this diagnosis is not the end of the world and no one has any reason to feel sorry for us because our daughter was born with an extra chromosome. If you could just see or hold my daughter just once, you would understand that to know her is to love her.

Lacey is our ray of sunshine and she brings so much joy and love to our family. I know there have been many people who have wondered and we have even been asked, “If you had the choice, would you take away the down syndrome?” Here is my answer; If we took away Lacey’s Down syndrome then she would not be Lacey. What I would like to take away is people’s stereotypes about what Down syndrome looks like.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Please enjoy the amazing speech that my 11-year-old daughter, Sydney gave at her school, which won her a speech contest.

Speech Topic:  A time when volunteers made a difference.
By: Sydney Yontz

Have you heard of Down syndrome?  I learned about Down
syndrome nine months ago, when my parents told my sister and me
about our 2 year old baby sister, Lacey.  When she was born my parents
never told us that she had Down syndrome.  I knew she had to go to
the doctor and have therapy a lot, but I just thought something was
wrong with her heart.  When my parents sat my sister and me down to
explain it to us, they told us that she had Down syndrome, which meant
she had an extra chromosome, and that she may be slow to learn things
like walking, talking, and reading.  The easiest way to explain Down
syndrome is to say my sister was born with 47 chromosomes instead of
46 like me.  She has 3 copies of her 21st chromosome.  I only have 2.

The Buddy Walk is a group that is working to bring awareness
about Down syndrome to the public.  The Buddy Walk was started in
1995 by the National Down Syndrome Society to raise awareness and
acceptance for people with Down syndrome.  The Buddy Walk is
organized by volunteers.  These volunteers get people involved to walk,
raise money, and raise awareness about Down syndrome.  These
people do not get paid any money to do this.  The payment they get is
the satisfaction of seeing all the smiling faces from the children and
adults during the event.

My mom’s friend, Kelli is the President of the Miami Valley Down
Syndrome Association.  She said they raised over $80?thousand dollars
last year for their Buddy Walk in Dayton.  The money will go to help
fund programs like summer camp, help parents pay for therapies, and
this year they will be buying iPad’s for some families. They also give 7%of the money they earned to the National Down Syndrome Society and
this money is used for research.  Nationally, the Buddy Walk raised over
$11?million dollars last year to help provide programs and services.
Back when the Buddy Walk first started they only had 17 walks
throughout the whole United States, but last year they had over 300,
and even had their first walk in the country of Japan.

So, what has the Buddy Walk done to change America?  Last year
alone, there were almost 300?thousand people that participated in the
Buddy Walk to raise money for Down syndrome.  But more importantly,
these volunteers helped raise awareness and educate millions upon
millions of others about Down syndrome.

So, why is this awareness about Down syndrome so important you
ask?  As my mom says, “my sister is part of the lucky 15% born with
Down syndrome”.  Yes, I just said my sister is lucky to be born with
Down syndrome…  You see, nearly 85% of parents when told their baby
will be born with Down syndrome, will choose to have an abortion.
Which means that the parents will end their baby’s life before it is even
born.  I can’t imagine my sister not getting a chance to live.  And I can’t
imagine my life without my sister.  She is the best sister in the world
and I love her so much.

One of my biggest fears for my sister is that someone will make
fun of her as she gets bigger, and the Buddy Walk is doing a great job in
promoting awareness so that one day my sister will be accepted by
everyone, and no one will call her mean names and make fun of her.  I
also hope that one day, with the help of the Buddy Walk that those 85%
of parents who are going to choose to end their baby’s life will go down
to zero.  Those babies deserve to be lucky too, just like my sister.