“I am Brittany Schiavone from Long Island, New York, USA.
When I was born, the doctors did not expect much of me. I was born with Down syndrome, and they gave my parents a list of all the things I would not be able to do. But with love and support and determination, I’ve proved them wrong.
A few years ago, I saw a YouTube video with my boss at work on our lunch break. It was a video about helping babies with Down syndrome, and I was inspired. I came home and told my parents about it. I wanted to tell parents, who are going to have a baby with down syndrome, that it is okay! I felt it in my heart and knew I was making the right decision. I know there are lots of babies with Down syndrome out there in the world, and I want them and their families to have hope. I wanted their families to celebrate.
Hence, I started Brittany’s Baskets of Hope in October 2016. I make and deliver baskets of hope to new babies with Down syndrome all across the country. To date, I have sent 1000 baskets to families across 50 states. My baskets of hope are full of resources, support, and love for the babies and their families. We have many items that go in the baskets—everything from resources to ‘Down Right Perfect’ onesies to children’s books.
Each month, we pack new baskets at what we call “packing parties.” It’s usually me, my parents, sometimes my cousins and brothers, and my friend Ashley. Ashley’s the one who prints out each basket of hope request, we read the stories of each of the babies from their request form, and then we pack each basket especially for that family. I love packing parties and knowing that Ashley and my family are right there next to me!
The biggest challenge is showing the world what’s possible for people with Down syndrome. In the Down syndrome community, we call this “shouting our worth.” I’m into theater, Broadway, singing, dancing, and acting. Growing up, I was in all my church’s plays and participated in Special Olympics horseback riding, gymnastics, and swimming. I even joined my high school’s dance ensemble. Today, I love spending time with friends, going to the movies, going out to eat, singing in the car, working on my nonprofit, and just having fun.
Sending hope to families that are newly welcoming a baby with Down syndrome into their lives is important because, often, when babies with Down syndrome are born, people (even doctors!) say, “I’m sorry,” to the parents when they hear the news. At Brittany’s Baskets of Hope, we don’t say, “I’m sorry.” We say congratulations! I want these parents to see that their children will grow up to live a full life with their own purpose, just like me.
I always say, “Babies with Down syndrome can do anything—really, really, really anything!” I would tell them to follow your heart.
It makes me happy to be kind. I feel it in my heart.
Kindness means generosity.”
You Humanity pays respect and gratitude to Brittany for going above and beyond to contribute towards Humanity.
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