Change for the Better

Recently, I read the beautifully illustrated picture book by Joyce Scott with Brie Spangler and Melissa Sweet, Unbound: The Life + Art of Judith Scott . It opened my eyes to what life was like for a person with Downs Syndrome born in 1943, 20 years before I was born. Told by her twin sister, this book let me feel what it was like for Judith to be placed in an institution. Without her twin, Judith would have stayed at the Columbus, Ohio instituion for the rest of her life. But that didn’t happen because Judith had an advocate – a twin who missed her and fought for her to become her legal guardian. Finally, at age 42 the sisters were reunited in Oakland, CA. Luckily, in 1974, the Creative Growth Art Center was founded as a nonprofit art studio for artists with developmental, intellectual and physical disabilities. Judith was able to attend art classes there once she moved to California and the remained of the story shows how she began to express her creativity using fiber materials and found objects.

As I read this book, I thought of my friend, E’s daughter, M, who was born in 1999 with Downs Syndrome. M’s life however, was very different from Judith’s. As I scroll through E’s facebook page, I see so many happy grins by M as she poses during public school events and dinners with her many friends and as she dresses up for Halloween, which seemed to be a favorite holiday! Thanks to E’s advocacy and laws passed to ensure people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else, M lived a happy life.

I encourage you to look for this book at your local library or independent bookstore. I encourage you to be an advocate for all, especially those like Judith and M with Down Syndrome. Judith’s creatvitiy was described as having “made something as unique as she is”. So glad Judith came out from being hidden away in an instituion. So glad M was able to shine bright for her whole life.

11 thoughts on “Change for the Better

  1. kbigen says:

    Reading your post about her journey makes me wonder what is going on now that we will look back on with bewilderment. Something that seems OK but really isn’t. Boundaries need to be pushed so everyone can be whatever they want to be. On February18, 2022 Sofía Jirau, became Victoria’s Secret’s First Model with Down Syndrome. That is cool!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. amyjuengst says:

    Thanks for sharing this heart book. I can’t wait to read.
    My mom’s cousin was born blind and deaf. Her family institutionalized her for years until those very institutions were replaced by group homes which is where she spent the remainder of her life. Her parents and sister treated her cruelly–never visited her or making sure she had enough financial support. She was forced to live in unsafe, low income housing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Denise Krebs says:

    Thanks, Sally, for the review. It sounds like a delightful book. I am so glad that we live in a new generation that supports full inclusion for people with Down Syndrome. Today is a day to celebrate that. And yet…(as you and Erika said) we can still keep working.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fran McCrackin says:

    Becoming a parent involves risk, you don’t know what you are going to get. Then you feel it again when (if you are lucky) becoming a grandparent. I test myself sometimes, wondering how I would feel to have a grandchild born with Down’s syndrome. I hope I would be the best ever, like your friend and like Judith Scott’s sister, and stand on the side of love and seeing all the value that is there. Your post shed a lot of sunshine on this topic.

    Liked by 1 person

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