It’s the Most Wonderful Day of the Year!

DSC_0175To most, today is just another day.

To our family, it’s a day that strengthens our spirits, renews our hope and energizes our passion for creating a better world for Beau & Bitty.

In this big world we live in, being the parents of children with special needs can sometimes feel very lonely – but not today.

Today is Spread the Word to End the Word Day – a day when people pledge to show respect through their words & actions by taking the pledge to not use the r-word. It’s no secret that our language affects our attitudes and when someone uses the r-word it’s both dehumanizing and hurtful to those living with an intellectual disability and those of us that love them.  With each pledge that is made to end the r-word, our world becomes a little more accepting and inclusive of people with intellectual disabilities – which is exactly why today doesn’t feel so lonely.

IMG_0649IMG_0968

IMG_6890

DSC_0182

Today, as I watch Beau & Bitty’s teachers proudly wear their t-shirts to school or see the stream of people sharing our video on Facebook or witness hearts changing as students sign a banner at our girl’s high school, I feel part of a community that accepts and values our family exactly as we are.

 As advocates for our children, we oftentimes feel like we’re swimming upstream, but today, it feels like there’s a strong undercurrent that’s carrying us along.

Our heartfelt thanks to all that have and continue to support us.

IMG_6898

Beau’s Red Carpet Premiere of LITTLE ACCIDENTS

www.kmiphotography.comA hush washed over the cinema lobby.

Sandwiched in between hundreds of people, I found myself panning the crowd taking in the palpable excitement in the air.

www.kmiphotography.comWith reporters and cameras poised and a red carpet unfurled, we were ready for this moment – a moment that began nearly two years ago when we first received the call that changed the course of Beau’s life, as we learned he had been cast in the film, LITTLE ACCIDENTS.

www.kmiphotography.com

What has unfolded since that day has brought Beau more happiness, confidence and affirmation than most of us experience in a lifetime.

Not only did he realize his potential as an actor, he carved out a place for himself in the world and in doing so found an identity that made him feel incredibly proud.

He had become a “star”.

www.kmiphotography.com

STAR: An object when placed in a certain position can influence people’s lives.

www.kmiphotography.com

 As the crowd erupted with applause, Beau took his place on the red carpet and owned every word of that definition.

For the next few hours, Beau posed for pictures, shook hands, shared hugs, answered reporter’s questions, signed autographs and thanked every one of his guests for being a part of his special day.

www.kmiphotography.com

 The icing on the cake came the next day in a Wall Street Journal review of the film which said,

“Another stellar performance comes from Beau Wright, who has Down Syndrome, as Lofland’s little brother, James.”

LITTLEACCIDENTS-articleLarge Reading the words stellar and Down syndrome in the same sentence is exactly the kind of influence our “star” was making in this world!

www.kmiphotography.com

 

Watch WECT News coverage of the Beau’s RED CARPET PREMIERE of LITTLE ACCIDENTS by clicking below

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 2.27.08 PM

Read more about the RED CARPET PREMIERE by clicking HERE

A Great Adventure!

WV_72213_0461-2It was the summer of 2013, as the sun rose over the hills of West Virginia and the cameras began to roll that Beau began the greatest adventure of his life so far – filming the independent feature film, LITTLE ACCIDENTS.

1453506_678240892196388_2131399331_nFrom that moment forward, Beau found his new identity – an identity that made him feel capable, talented, successful and valued – adjectives that aren’t often used to describe people with Down syndrome – but on that day, Beau felt all of those things and more as he became a “movie star”.

WV_BTS_0367

What has unfolded since that summer has not only been a great adventure for Beau, but for our entire family and I’d venture to say that it’s been a great ride for all of you that have followed Beau’s journey, too.

P1120228

One week from today, LITTLE ACCIDENTS will be released nationwide and also available on iTunes.

To celebrate this much anticipated day, our family will be hosting a Red Carpet Premiere of the movie in our hometown of Wilmington.

For our little guy that was born blind and walked with leg braces until he was three, this moment will once again prove that he is capable, talented, successful and valued.

1901183_771066126260362_6987812258191446017_nLet Beau’s story remind you that ANYTHING is possible.

Twas’ the Night Before Christmas

 DSC_0103Twas’ the night before Christmas with Bitty and Beau

Dressed in their jammies from head to their toe

Their smiles were glowing, their faces were bright

They’d waited all year for this most special night

Their joy was contagious, their spirits were high

They hoped for a visit from one special guy

The air was electric, the lights were a glow

Our kids were all ready for Santa to show

And then something happened without any warning

Their smiles they grew larger than Christmas morning

They rushed down the stair and jumped high with great joy

As if they’d received just the very best toy

Their faces were glowing, their arms opened wide

To greet the big man that had just stepped inside

His eyes welled with tears as I’d seen times before

In fact every time he walked through our front door

He scooped them both up and held them so near

And then Beau exclaimed, “Dad, I’m so glad you’re here”

I’d seen this before, but it still made me pause

They knew Daddy’s love was much better than “Claus”

With hearts filled with love there’s just one thing to say

With our Beau & Bitty, each day’s Christmas Day.

Huffington Post features Dye Creek Capital

My husband, Ben, and his business, Dye Creek Capital, http://www.dyecreekcapital.com, were recently featured by the Huffington Post.  As you’ll read in the excerpt below, Ben left his job at a Wall Street firm to start Dye Creek Capital, a business focused on providing employment opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Additionally, Ben and one of his amazing employees, Jeffrie, were interviewed by HuffPost Live.   With an estimated 85% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities UNEMPLOYED, stories like this will hopefully inspire other businesses to follow suit and help change these statistics.

Click on the image below to watch the interview.

1467298_885092594857714_286467901612359479_n-1

This Man Ditched Wall Street To Start A Business That Hires People With Disabilities

Ben Wright began seeing the world differently when his two youngest children were born with Down syndrome.

He realized educational and career opportunities would be much tougher to come by for kids that are deemed less able to succeed in the eyes of society, so he decided to leave his job at a Wall Street firm and ensure a future for children like his own.

“What we noticed was — at about age 21, 22, 23, at least here in North Carolina — folks with (intellectual and developmental disabilities) just sort of fell off the grid,” he told HuffPost Live on Tuesday. “We selfishly didn’t want our children to be in the same spot years going forward, so we thought we’d put our money where our mouth is, and make our professional lives as authentic as our personal lives.”

Wright’s new venture, Dye Creek Capital, would function differently than most other companies. The first thing the businessman did was hire nine adults who have some sort of intellectual or developmental disability, or IDD, to help the office run smoothly. As hospitality associates, Wright’s first employees greet clients, offer them something to drink, and even give gifts — like homemade granola or flowers grown in the garden outside — to visitors, he told HuffPost Live.

Wright said his employees with IDD are fantastic, capable, and reliable workers who always make it in to the office on time.

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 12.3 percent of people with disabilities were unemployed in September (well above the rate of people without disabilities), the Institute for Corporate Productivity discovered about 70 percent of people specifically with IDD are unemployed. However, a survey released by the institute earlier this month revealed organizations that have hired people with IDD give those workers high marks in terms of attendance records, attention to work quality and productivity. What’s more, hiring them helped their bottom lines, too.

Jeffrie Blaylock, one of Wright’s hospitality associates, said it’s a positive feeling knowing he’s valued by his employer.

“There were a lot of people that I’ve met that always were telling me, ‘I can’t do this, I cannot do that,'” Blaylock told HuffPost Live. “It was a great feeling [to be hired at Dye Creek Capital], because I felt like good people believed in me.”

53 Facts About Down Syndrome

All month long, I’ve been sharing facts about Down syndrome on my Facebook page.  As Down Syndrome Awareness Month comes to a close, I couldn’t think of a better post than to share those 53 facts here on the blog.  Enjoy!

FACT #1 Beau & Bitty have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome.

FACT #2 Beau & Bitty give the best hugs.

10686958_822824024404740_7488838092740568268_nFACT #3 There are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States.

FACT #4 Beau & Bitty have the most amazing big sisters in the whole entire world.

10416583_823292424357900_2507205837431364634_n

FACT #5 Beau has hopes & dreams just like everybody else. One day he plans to drive a car, skydive, be in more movies and become a chef or a doctor. He also plans to get married one day.

10665720_823861660967643_3358984897305984623_n

FACT #6 Years ago, people with Down syndrome were usually institutionalized,with the assumption that they were unable to learn.

FACT #7 Bitty loves reading books…lots & lots of books!

10382667_824625674224575_8743369936338987645_n

FACT #8 Approximately 1 in every 700 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome.

FACT #9 We won the lottery twice!

1002368_825092150844594_4192974526978281167_n

FACT #10 We’re more alike than different.

10410396_825649717455504_2134999190082149450_n

FACT # 11 Beau has an extra copy of the 21st chromosome.

FACT # 12 Beau’s extra chromosome rocks!

10411398_826164550737354_932975063109944205_n

FACT #13 Starting in infancy, most children with Down syndrome receive early intervention therapies including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

FACT #14 Bitty never misses a chance to dance!

10698697_826786090675200_2243240033719436087_n

FACT #15 Happiness is just one of the many feelings people with Down syndrome experience in life.

FACT #16 Beau is sometimes referred to as “Mr. Grumpy Pants”

DSC_0073

FACT #17 It’s estimated that 9 out of 10 couples choose to terminate their pregnancy when they receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

FACT #18 If those same couples knew Beau & Bitty, those statistics would undoubtedly change.

1972437_827900213897121_5595684445257772781_nFACT #19 A diagnosis does not define a person.

FACT #20 Beau likes to define himself as a “movie star”

10730770_828667057153770_4545151357024296390_n

FACT #21 Socializing and forming meaningful relationships is just as important to people with Down syndrome as it is to you & me.

FACT #22 Beau deeply loves his friends.

1620838_829115950442214_4000049939069105216_n

FACT #23 Raising a child with Down syndrome may cause excessive joy!

10428007_808408912512918_158190714472574860_n

FACT #24 An individual with Down syndrome is an individual first and foremost. When referring to a person with Down syndrome, please put the emphasis on the person, not the disability ex: “The person with Down syndrome”, not “the Down syndrome person”.

FACT #25 Beau is a son, brother, friend, student, actor and athlete who also happens to have Down syndrome.

10392432_830100030343806_6846655158135166116_n

FACT #26 People with Down syndrome may share certain physical traits, but they also share the traits of their family.

FACT #27 Bitty looks just like me.

10713006_830512493635893_3292778373605583018_n

FACT #28 Beau & Bitty have awesome lives. There’s no prenatal test for that.

10348188_830945290259280_1893550997998746635_n

FACT #29 When people use the R-word ‘retard(ed)’ it not only hurts people with Down syndrome, it hurts the people who love them.

FACT #30 Taking the pledge to end the R-word is a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people.

10671342_831550430198766_2499357635307296798_n

FACT #31 Nobody steals home like Beau.

1395249_832025990151210_5528776466819039637_n

FACT #32 More than 60% of children with Down syndrome have vision problems. Less than 3% of babies with Down syndrome are born with congenital cataracts. Cataracts prevent a clear image from being delivered to the brain and therefore the brain is at risk for never “learning” to see.

FACT #33 Beau was born blind. His daddy discovered he had cataracts when he was 8 weeks old. Thanks to his daddy, Beau now sees.

10689998_832632270090582_9211165901806264397_n

FACT #34 Beau & Bitty’s lives enrich the lives of others and the world around them in significant and irreplaceable ways.

10653604_833020720051737_4986419883625434935_n

FACT #35 A national study asked brothers and sisters about their feelings and perceptions toward their sibling with Down syndrome. Nearly 90% felt that they were better people because of their siblings with Down syndrome.

FACT #36 “Best friends bring out the best in you. I guess that means Beau & Bitty are my best friends.” ~ Emma Grace Wright, big sister extraordinaire

10780_833524980001311_3567489167443870476_n

FACT #37 There’s no limit to what people with Down syndrome can achieve.

FACT #38 There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Beau joined his daddy onstage to sing with the Symphony Orchestra.

1959429_833837766636699_1883209847632033323_n

FACT #39 Approximately half of all infants born with Down syndrome have a heart defect.

FACT #40 A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles. (Beau and our little miracle, Bitty)

10712905_834495739904235_3843468712146285999_n

FACT #41 The best gift I ever gave my children was each other.

10701956_834791476541328_7026677611841049490_n

FACT #42 Beau & Bitty have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome in every cell of their body.

FACT #43 Sometimes I look at Beau & Bitty and think it’s not that they have an extra chromosome, it’s that the rest of us are missing one.

10606232_835456296474846_6820083286560658063_n

FACT #44 Approximately 4,000,000 babies are born in the U.S. each year.
1 in every 691 babies is born with Down syndrome.
Approximately 90% of couples choose to terminate their pregnancy when they receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome.
Approximately 52,000 pregnancies are terminated EACH YEAR when parents receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

FACT #45 Approximately 58,000 Americans lost their lives in the Vietnam War. EVERY YEAR, there are almost as many pregnancies terminated because parents receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome as there were casualties in the entire Vietnam War.

FACT #46 People are afraid of the unknown. If we can change just one couple’s perspective by sharing our family’s journey, it is enough. If we can change the culture of our society and in doing so influence our nation’s statistics, then we will rest.

10492132_835712466449229_1639786849732209356_n

FACT #47 Love doesn’t count chromosomes.

1467313_836429703044172_2709305806658436398_n

FACT #48 People “have” Down syndrome, they do not “suffer from” it and are not “afflicted by” it.

FACT #49 Beau has Down syndrome. He also has an infectious laugh and a fantastic imagination.

539147_639318909421920_1365977455_n

FACT #50 I wouldn’t change you for the world. Instead, I’ll change the world for you.

1453506_678240892196388_2131399331_n

FACT #51 The absence and/or misrepresentation of people with Down syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities in main stream media reflects the reality of our society, which continues to struggle to include people with different abilities.

FACT #52 For six weeks on the set of LITTLE ACCIDENTS, Beau poured himself into the experience of movie making. From memorizing his lines to taking direction, Beau proved to himself and everyone else that he was not only capable of the job, he was worthy.

1779928_838052612881881_7317886670573118275_n

FACT #53 I am blessed!

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

A few weeks ago, I was asked to write a piece for Maria Shriver’s website in honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

Very excited to see it published today!  Hope you enjoy.

DSC_0073

 

It’s Down Syndrome Awareness Month – a chance to celebrate the lives of people with Down syndrome! This is particularly important to us as our two youngest, Beau and Bitty, have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. We like to say we won the lottery twice!

Our son, Beau (age 10), has already accomplished things that most typically developing people dream of, but never do. He’s sung with a symphony orchestra, competed in the Special Olympics and was even a featured actor in a film that recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. And his five year old sister, Bitty, is right on his tail – ready to carve out her own place in the world. They’re smart, compassionate, talented and loving children with hopes and dreams just like you and me. My husband, Ben, and I have hopes and dreams for them, too. Most importantly, we hope and dream that someday Beau and Bitty will be more accepted, included and valued in our society.

Advocating for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) has become our mission in life, but it hasn’t always been that way. In the beginning, when Beau was born, it was all we could do to keep our heads above water. We worried about his health, his future and his happiness. As the new parents of a child with special needs, we learned everything we could about Down syndrome. Within the first few days of Beau’s life, we were introduced to a poem, “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Kingsley. The poem compares the experience of having a child with special needs to the idea of a couple preparing to take a trip to Italy, only to find their plane has instead landed in Holland. For years this poem has been a “go to” for me in times when I’ve felt alone. It illustrates that while Holland is slower paced, it has many wonderful offerings such as windmills, tulips and Rembrandts. And it addresses the idea that while everyone else is coming and going from Italy and bragging about the wonderful time they’ve had there, Holland has much to offer, too. Going to Holland is just going to a different place – or is it?

There are plenty of moments in my life when I experience the beauty and wonder of Holland.They happen every time I look at Beau and Bitty. But the reality is we don’t live in Holland. We live in Italy. And in Italy, a person’s worth is measured differently. It’s measured by performance and productivity. It’s measured by accolades and achievements. And sadly, a large percentage of Italy chooses not to include and accept people from Holland.

But there’s good news! There’s a revolution taking place right now in Italy – a revolution to set aside what we think we know and learn that we are all more alike than different. This revolution gives me great hope that someday when a child with IDD is born there will be no need to introduce parents to the “Welcome to Holland” poem, because Italy will have written its own.

Here are 5 ways you can join the revolution:

1. Create a more inclusive workplace by hiring people with IDD.
2. Eliminate the use of the “R word.”
3. Continue to pass legislation that allows people with IDD to plan for their futures.
4. Improve educational opportunities for people with IDD.
5. Incorporate people with IDD into mainstream media.

Here’s the link to the article published on Maria Shriver’s website http://mariashriver.com/blog/2014/10/down-syndrome-awareness-month-5-ways-to-to-join-the-revolution-amy-wright/

5 Reasons Your Business Should Hire Someone With An Intellectual Disability

As one of Maria Shriver’s contributing writers, I wrote the following piece a few months ago.  I’m sharing it again today in honor of the millions of people living in our country with intellectual disabilities that desire and deserve a chance to be a part of our nation’s labor force.  This Labor Day, please join our family in changing the statistics.

Unknown-15 REASONS YOUR BUSINESS SHOULD HIRE SOMEONE WITH AN INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY

For my husband, walking away from Wall Street was the easiest decision he ever made – but not for the reasons you might think. With over a decade of experience as a financial advisor, a solid book of business and a plethora of professional designations, Ben had nothing but blue skies ahead of him, but it was his personal life that was about to redefine his career. As the proud father of four children – two with Down syndrome – Ben was acutely aware of the challenges people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) face in this world – most specifically their difficulty finding employment. And so, in the spring of 2013, Ben decided it was time to make his professional life as authentic as his personal life. He resigned as vice president at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and opened Dye Creek Capital, a full service investment practice with a focus on employing people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Today, Dye Creek Capital proudly employs nine individuals with IDD as client hospitality associates, but this is just the beginning of Ben’s vision to make an impact on the way businesses do business. With over 70% of people living with IDD unemployed in our country, Ben hopes that Dye Creek Capital’s business model will inspire other businesses to follow suit and help change these statistics.

For Ben, making the decision to blaze this new path was completely organic. For others, it might mean taking a step outside their comfort zone.

Here are five reasons every business should hire someone with an intellectual or developmental disability.

DCC LaurenPEOPLE WITH IDD ARE CAPABLE

Despite widespread misperceptions, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are capable of learning new skills and completing tasks. People with IDD also have formidable skill sets that can contribute greatly to the success of a business. If needed, there are many resources available including supported employment services that assist employees with on-the job training and workplace modifications at no cost to the employer.

PEOPLE WITH IDD ARE HARD WORKING

On-time, dedicated, productive and loyal are just a few of the adjectives employers use to describe their employees with IDD. Employees with IDD oftentimes model characteristics that employers desire for their entire workforce.

P1090433PEOPLE WITH IDD ARE RELIABLE

A recent study conducted by the University of Massachusetts determined that 62 percent of adults with IDD who were employed have been in their job for more than three years. This low turnover and high employee retention rate make people with IDD ideal job candidates.

PEOPLE WITH IDD ARE GOOD FOR BUSINESS

Hiring people with IDD is a visible way to demonstrate a business’ commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Workplace diversity also creates a positive culture for employees and customers. With nearly 5 million people living with an intellectual disability in our country, chances are your next customer knows someone with an IDD and will appreciate your hiring practices.

DCC- GregPEOPLE WITH IDD DESERVE A CHANCE

All people are created equal in rights, dignity and the potential to achieve great things. Yet, people with IDD continue to be marginalized and discriminated against. Once given the opportunity through employment, people with IDD can learn new skills and be successful in a variety of work environments. Employers should focus on an individual’s abilities instead of their disabilities.

To learn more about Dye Creek Capital and its business model to employ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities visit www.DyeCreekCapital.com

http://mariashriver.com/blog/2014/06/5-reasons-your-business-should-hire-someone-with-an-intellectual-disability-amy-ben-wright/

 

The Miracle League

Beau & Bitty love to play baseball.

983754_592505464116430_2038675777_n

Maybe it’s because they love the sound of cheering fans.

10524356_833753183324989_8672484592589664380_n

Maybe it’s because nothing feels better than sliding into home base.

10320441_10153018559834068_6573829937549912096_nOr maybe, it’s because the Miracle Field is a place where everyone can play.

1902715_733591316674510_1964870513_n

Want to see what happens at the Miracle Field?

 Check out this awesome video made by Beau & Bitty’s big sister,  Emma Grace.

The Miracle Field – by Little Peanut Pictures

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,782 other followers