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Transforming Lives, Transforming Society
The L’Arche Canada Foundation is a not-for-profit charity that raises funds on behalf of L’Arche Canada and is committed to transforming the lives of intellectually disabled people in communities across Canada.

This blog is for me, you, and others to share reflections on life, family, faith, intellectual disability, community, belonging, and whatever else emerges so that we are strengthened and influenced by the vision and values of L’Arche, and Jean Vanier, in a personal way.

Mar 21

Do You Want To Dance?

Every cell in the human body has 23 pairs of chromosomes (46 total chromosomes). That is, for most of us. A whole bunch of people in our world have an extra chromosome. The extra chromosome causes problems with the way the body and brain develop.

Actually it is not a problem because if anything, most people I know who have Down syndrome are happier and more content than you or me. I notice that they are much more present and engaged in day to day relationships than I am.

I am very busy trying to change the world. Sometimes I feel tired and discouraged. There is so much that is not right.

I draw enormous inspiration from my friends who have Down syndrome. They ARE the change that the world needs…. gentleness, a great work ethic, quickness to forgive and yes, you guessed it, they are great dancers.

Do I wish the extra chromosome upon anyone? No. Am I amazed and grateful for the unique gifts and contributions made by people with Down syndrome. Absolutely!

Today is World Down Syndrome Day. Let’s celebrate the gift of difference. Let’s celebrate the presence of the extra chromosome. And if, by chance, someone should ask you to dance, go for it.

It matters!


Comments [Add a comment]

Donald Yeo

2012-03-22 00:36:20

Beautifully written blog, Nathan.  I can identify with everything you say, and the way, you say it.

One of the best dancers I know with Down syndrome is Robert Pio Hajjar, Founder of IDEAL WAY.  He seems to be able to faithfully perform just about any dance he has seen on television.

Several years ago while on a boat cruise, Robert asked my 'Dancing Queen' daughter, Laura, to join him on the 'all-mainstream' dance floor.  Not long afterwards, like a scene from a Hollywood movie, all of the mainstream dancers had paused in their own dancing and had formed themselves into an admiring circle, just to watch Robert and Laura who, by then, had the middle of the dance floor all to themselves. Polite applause followed when the song ended. 

Today, Robert's celebrating of World Down Syndrome Day included him dancing with costumed First Nations dancers at Six Nations of the Grand River.

Nathan, you and our other friends at L'Arche will be proud to learn that Rober Pio Hajjar just received the World Down Syndrome Award in the Voluntary and Professional Category for his outstanding contribution to raising awareness of Down syndrome, "in recognition of his outstanding achievements which have strengthened and enriched the lives of persons with Down syndrome." Only five persons, from five countries, received this award.  Presentation to take place in Cape Town, South Africa.


Don Yeo


Rita O'Connor

2012-03-21 17:16:20

Well.  Happy Down Syndrome Day.  I am glad that they are not an endangered species.  I am so glad that I know people with Down Syndrome.

It might not be true of all persons but there are some person with Down Syndrome to whom you should NOT hand the microphone!


Nathan Ball

Nathan Ball is a former Executive Director of the L'Arche Canada Foundation. He  has been involved with L'Arche for more than 25 years.

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