These 2 young women with Down syndrome will travel to the United Nations to share their stories
At the World Down syndrome Day function at the United Nations in Geneva this March, all eyes will be on Devanshi Joshi and Unnati Surana. These two women with Down syndrome have been invited to share their journey towards independence. Read about them on #StoryOfTheWeek.
Just 14 years old, Unnati Surana enjoys pottery, dances the kuchipudi, plays table tennis and loves hanging out with her older brother. Sounds like any typical teenager except that Unnati’s journey is filled with certain challenges as she has Down syndrome. How she is overcoming them to realise her potential will be the focus of her talk at the United Nations on 23 March.
True symbols of UN theme – We Decide
Unnati is among two Indians to be invited to speak at the prestigious World Down Syndrome Day function at the UN in Geneva on 23 March. The theme of 2020 is We Decide, and these two young women symbolise the spirit behind that in every way. The other person is Devanshi Joshi, who will be sharing her journey towards independence.
Devanshi, who is 26 years old, is a well-known advocate and champion of the cause of people with disabilities. An employee at Big Bazaar, she represents the true spirit of inclusion at the workplace. Accompanying her is mom Rashmi Joshi. Rashmi will be speaking at the UN too about the modules that she and husband Anil Joshi have evolved over the years to enable their child to become independent and self-reliant.
When Devanshi was diagnosed with Down syndrome, we realised there was nothing in terms of support and this was leading to new parents being misguided. Getting the right information at the right time is key and that can happen only if parents are aware. My wife and I decided to help parents with the right information and provide the linkages. – Anil Joshi, Devanshi’s father
Unnati will be accompanied by her 16-year-old brother and mom Meghna Surana. Her brother will be speaking at the event. “We felt that a sibling perspective was important”, says Meghna, who like many parents related with “shock and denial” when told about her daughter’s diagnosis. “Being invited to speak at the UN is great. It is such a wonderful platform”.
Concerns over Coronavirus scare
A major cause of anxiety for both families is the possibility of plans falling apart due to the scare over the Coronavirus outbreak. “We are keeping our fingers crossed”, adds Meghna.
A bond that Devanshi and Unnati’s families share is the enormous debt they say they owe to Dr Surekha Ramachandran, Founder of Down Syndrome Federation of India. As parent to a child with Down syndrome, Dr Ramachandran has a keen understanding of the challenges faced and has helped families across India.
“Dr Surekha helped us with the information about therapies”, says Meghna. She also credits Unnati’s school for supporting her. ‘When society accepts your child and is willing to let him/her belong, half the battle is won”.
These two women are making India proud.
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