Parliamentary Award-winning community coach with Bristol Bears Community Foundation.
Print and broadcast model with Zebedee Management.
Bakery trainee specializing in yummy Lavish flatbread.
Competitive swimmer with the Special Olympics.
Boyfriend of six years to the beautiful Olivia.
Awareness Ambassador for Wouldn’t Change a Thing Charity.
Meet Nino, one of Wouldn’t Change a Thing Charity (WCAT) talented ambassadors who is helping to change the world’s understanding of the capabilities and passions of people with Down syndrome.
Members of Making Chromosomes Count (MCC) sat down with Nino and his mum, Sharon, to learn more about Nino’s life and what he’d like to accomplish as a WCAT ambassador during October Awareness Month.
MCC: As a person who has already accomplished so much in your twenty-two years of life as someone with Down syndrome, what change would you like to see as a result of WCAT’s October awareness campaign? What message would you like to share with the wider community?
Nino: I love my life! I was happy to be named as an ambassador and am excited to show people what my life is like. I want to show that having Down syndrome is okay and not a “problem”. I want to live my life for me. I want people to be kind. I want people to give me chances.
MCC: What are some ways that you raise awareness in your everyday life?
Nino: I go on television, I appear in magazines, and I help my mom write stories about my life for lots of publications. As a model, I can share with others that being a person with Down syndrome doesn’t need to hold you back from anything in life.
MCC: You certainly have had an interesting and full life in your first twenty-two years. What does the future hold for you?
Nino: I will work in lots of different jobs and learn new, better skills at each one. I will exercise so that I stay healthy and fit. Olivia and I will be married, and we will live together in a house with our friends to support us. I will have a happy life. My future is exciting!
Nino’s mum Sharon has been by his side every step of the way. MCC editors met with Sharon to find out more about how she encouraged Nino to approach life with optimism and positivity.
MCC: Can you describe your son Nino in your own words?
Sharon: Nino is my teacher, my friend, my “sonshine”, my life and my breath. Nino has proven over the last twenty-two years that he has an important place in society and is an important part of our humanity. Nino lives daily with medical issues that affect his life and his independence, but he just chooses to face every day with determination and with a positive attitude. He touches the soul of everyone who gets to know him and leaves them with great memories.
MCC: Can you share a bit about your early days in parenting Nino? What was your reaction when you learned Nino’s diagnosis?
Sharon: We did not find out that Nino had Down syndrome until he was six months old, which is unusual. Nino had severe reflux from about the age of one month, and he began losing weight. When Nino turned five months of age and things were not getting better, we went into hospital for several days’ observation. Unbeknownst to us, as we awaited the medical results, several of the doctors on the ward raised questions to our consultant at the time. Without our knowledge, the medical staff carried out a blood test to check for Down syndrome. We left the hospital with what we thought was a miracle cure in Gaviscon! Two weeks later, the consultant called us and said:
“So, I’m afraid to tell you that Nino will never get a proper job as he has Down syndrome…”. Several weeks later, we received a letter from the clinic stating the same words on paper.
MCC: And today, Nino is thriving and serving as an ambassador to others to show that nothing can hold him back. What message do you, as Nino’s mum, have for the wider community?
Sharon: Look at those with Down syndrome with more than just your eyes. Don’t just see the outside: See the possibilities, see the worth, see the truth. The truth is that having an extra chromosome doesn’t mean there is no hope. Nino is an inspiration, a role model, and lives his life to the fullest. He has unconditional love for his family and friends. He is the most empathetic, compassionate young man I’ve ever met. He dreams, believes and achieves every day of his life. Down syndrome is the glitter on top of his amazing personality that makes him shine even more. With appropriate support, anyone can lead a meaningful, positive life and be as independent as society allows. Life is what we make it. Someone with Down syndrome can achieve so much more than you might think. Help them spread their wings, and watch them fly.
Editor – Janice Jencarelli Corrado 06.10.2010
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