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This teenager with Down syndrome addressed the U.N.—and what she said is just beautiful


Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 03/22/17

From The Catholic Leader in Australia:

Olivia Hargroder is a Year 12 student at Southern Cross Catholic College, Scarborough, Queensland. Olivia was born with Down Syndrome and was told by doctors that she would never learn to speak. A member of the Down Syndrome Association of Queensland, Olivia made her public speaking debut last year at a national education conference. She was recently invited to speak at the 12th World Down Syndrome Day conference held on March 21 at the United Nations’ Headquarters in New York.Here is some of what she said:  My name is Olivia Hargroder, I am 17 years old and I live in Brisbane, Australia. I’m in my last year of high school and I work part time at Coles Supermarket. I want to travel the world as an actor, singer, dancer, and public speaker. I have a great family and a dog called Dolly. When I was born I was so sick that my parents couldn’t even cuddle me. They stayed by my side until my heart was fixed, reading books to me. It was no surprise that reading and books became my absolute favourite thing to do as I got bigger and stronger. The doctor told my parents that because I had Down Syndrome I would never learn to speak…well that was wrong because I became a chatterbox. I love little kids and I have recently finished an Open University Course on Child Development that really got me thinking. One of the things I learnt was all children are born optimistic which is great. But are all people, doctors, nurses, physios, teachers, grandparents, are they optimistic about all children? Are children with Down Syndrome given the same hope as other kids? …I’m sure the doctor who told me I would never speak couldn’t have imagined me here in New York speaking to you at the United Nations. So when a baby with Down Syndrome is born, can’t we just expect the best and believe they can be anything they want to be?

There is much more. Read the whole speech. And give thanks to the Author of Life.

Photo: Brad McLennon / Catholic Leader

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