An emotional video of a Truro father explaining what he's learned from having a son with Down syndrome has struck a chord with parents of special-needs children across Canada and around the world.
Since Robb Scott posted the video to Facebook on Saturday, it has been viewed nearly 1 million times and attracted nearly 2,000 comments from all over the globe, many from parents wanting to share their own experiences.
"We too have a son with Downs, how I wish the world understood this," said commenter Laureen Hickey Veino.
"My son was my superhero. We lost him a year ago but he brought joy, love, happiness and most certainly taught me a thing or two," said Leslie Hudson-Couch.
"I've been there too. I'm sure most of us, with a loved one with DS have. But every time people see us with our kids, they see a living example of the beautiful reality," said Jemima Hoadley.
'It is not an illness'
In the video, Scott begins with a missed teachable moment, to correct another father's incorrect definition of Down syndrome to an inquiring son. He goes on to discuss how his son Turner has changed his life.
"Down syndrome is literally the most beautiful thing that's ever happened in my life. It's fun, it's brilliant, it's amazing, it's funny, it's kind, it's loving, it's cuddly. They're great teachers, people with Down syndrome. It's not an illness. It's not even a disability" Scott said.
Amy Donnelly, board secretary of the Halifax Nova Scotia Down Syndrome Society, says the video has sparked a conversation about Down syndrome and is helping to create awareness.
"We just want people to be more aware of what Down syndrome is and what's they're capable of, if given the opportunity," Donnelly said.
Down syndrome is the most common congenital anomalies, occurring in one in approximately 800 live births. Donnelly herself is the mother to a "vibrant, energetic and loving" three-year-old daughter with Down syndrome named Ivy.
"I think of Ivy having Down syndrome and a lot of people might take this the wrong way, but I feel that is almost like winning the lottery, like the chances are like that, it's just so amazing," she said.
"There are challenges, of course, there was a period of grieving when we first had her. We didn't know what Down syndrome really was, what the future would hold. But looking at her, looking at the community now, now that we know we can be part of this bigger picture, it's so heartwarming."
The Nova Scotia Down syndrome community has frequent get-togethers — monthly play groups for parents with young children, a weekly Friday night social event where young adults with Down syndrome get together to dance and play games and an annual Walk With Friends awareness fundraiser.
"The parents become close friends, the children grow up together, they sometimes fall in love with one another," Donnelly said. "We have young adults with Down syndrome who are just madly in love and they go out on social events and dates and it's their life, they do anything that everyone else does."
'They're not so scared'
Donnelly says the membership has a large group of adults with Down syndrome in their 20s and a large group of children under 10, but fewer in the age group between the two.
She thinks the number of children born with Down syndrome is increasing because parents don't find raising the children as daunting as they once did.
"Now that people know that it's not this debilitating disease, this awful illness, they're not so scared and families are opting to continue on with their pregnancies," she said.
For her own daughter's future, Donnelly says she will do whatever she can to help Ivy achieve her goals.
"It's whatever she wants to be, I have no idea what she's going to want and that's all I want from her. I don't want anything more, I don't want anything less," she said.
March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day.