Be inspired by the story of Rosie and her dad Tom, who have been helped by Mencap, the charity, and discover how you can make a difference.
Tom knows better than anyone how Mencap can change lives. Writing his blog The Future’s Rosie, about day-to-day life raising a daughter with a learning disability, first brought him into contact with the charity.
“I’ve learned so much from Mencap about all aspects of learning disability. They continue to push boundaries with new and innovative ways to make society more accepting and gain a better understanding about life with a learning disability,” says Tom.
Tom and his family found out Rosie had Down’s syndrome before she was born. With two sons already, they weren’t sure what to expect – and had to source their own support, both educationally and emotionally.
Now just seven years old, little Rosie has proved to them that having a child with Down’s syndrome was nothing to fear, and she is a happy and much-loved daughter, sister, granddaughter, cousin, niece and friend. Nonetheless, the family have experienced a whole range of emotions, from fear in the early months as their daughter underwent hours of open heart surgery to readjustment as they fitted not just another child but one with a learning disability into their family dynamic.
“Rosie brings so much joy to our family and we wouldn’t change a single thing about her,” says Tom. “Yes, she does have a learning disability, but this is not what defines her. Hopefully as she grows up she can help society see her for who she is.”
Tom has found working with Mencap a hugely positive experience, providing a collective voice for families such as his, who may otherwise struggle to be heard.
“Mencap do an amazing job of challenging the Government to do more, and of campaigning relentlessly for change. It’s surprising and somewhat shocking to learn that my daughter’s life can still be valued less than someone else’s purely because she happens to have a learning disability. Without Mencap’s knowledge, expertise and passion for change I really don’t think progress could be made so effectively and efficiently.”
With Mencap constantly involving families to get their opinions, and keeping up to date in the fast-changing world of legislation, Tom values the charity’s forward-thinking campaigns to challenge the way society thinks about learning disability.
And his hopes for Rosie’s future? One which every father would hope for their child: “That she is able to receive the same support and opportunities as her peers in order to reach her full potential. I hope one day Rosie will have a good level of independence but am also aware that this will only happen by receiving the right level of support.
“I would love to see a future where Rosie can thrive and be respected and valued in society for the wonderful girl she is and not judged by her learning disability.”