The Definition of Friendship
Easter Seals RI Early Intervention Clients
Walking into Easter Seals RI, the sound of laughter and feeling of happiness fills the room. On the mats, surrounded by bubbles and toys, two little girls are playing, holding hands and singing. Seeing them together is a reminder of true friendship, in a world where this type of pure relationship isn't always easy to find.
They are two typical girls under age two, dressed in coordinated outfits with bows in their hair. Celia loves swimming, books and balloons; Valentina loves books, too, and playing ball. They both love looking at their reflections in mirrors and windows. Who could blame them? They are absolutely adorable!
About one year ago, fate brought these two little girls together and they have been friends ever since. Both girls were diagnosed with Down syndrome and their parents had turned to Easter Seals RI for services. Each family had traveled a different road – Celia's parents were aware of her diagnosis when they were about mid-way through their pregnancy, while Valentina's parents were told just shortly after her birth. Valentina's uncle had Down syndrome, so her parents were familiar with the diagnosis, while Celia's parents were just learning about the diagnosis as they prepared to welcome their first-born child into the world.
"We were thrown into a situation that so many people don't understand,” says Valentina's dad, Nick. "Because of that, we don't take anything that they do for granted; these girls have taught us to appreciate life."
Their friendship extends beyond Celia and Valentina, as their parents have found strength in one another, as well. "It's nice to have each other," explains Celia's mom, Katie. "We've learned together how to be advocates for our daughters."
The girls and their families are very active in the Easter Seals RI community. In addition to occupational, physical and speech therapy, the girls participate in groups like the Little Movers. The families also stay very busy representing Easter Seals RI at events throughout the year and sharing their personal stories and Easter Seals experiences.
"We've learned from these families, too," says Tara McGarty, RN and Clinical Supervisor at Easter Seals RI, "they inspire us to be better therapists."
"Some days it's difficult to not get mad at ignorant people, but the best thing we can do is try our hardest to educate others, to show them how wonderful these girls truly are," Celia's dad, Justin, explains. "Our girls aren't defined by their diagnosis, they are so much more and they prove that to us every day."
Their combined age is less than four, but these girls have already taught their parents and those around them a lifetime of lessons. The most important lesson of all Valentina's mom, Rachael, explains, is "the value of true friendship."
For more information about Early Intervention services please click here.