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Hey Canada: It’s National Down Syndrome Awareness Week - Meet Nicholas Popowich
November 2, 2012
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November 1-7 is Canada's National Down Syndrome Awareness Week (NDSAW).

The week is organized by the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, and it focuses on the unique strengths and abilities of people with Down syndrome.

Here's one great example: Nicholas Popowich, pictured at the top of the post, is starring in a NDSAW billboard campaign called 'See the Ability.'

He currently works full-time at Sasktel, and loves spending time with his friends, girlfriend, and family.

Nicholas's story begins back in 1992, the year he was born - and the year he starred in his first photo shoot (when she heard he was featuring in the NDSAW billboard campaign, one of his aunts pointed out that he's already an experienced model).

ndsaw-baby.jpgNicholas was selected as one of the 12 most adorable babies in Canada in a calendar contest run by a pharmaceutical company.

In this article, which she wrote that year, his mother Elizabeth tells the story of Nicholas becoming a calendar baby.

She says that the fact he was chosen from 11,000 entrants as one of the 12 cutest babies in the country, "gave us the certainty that Nicholas would not only survive, but triumph. We realized that attitude is everything and, with the right attitude, everything's possible."

ndsaw-nick-adult.jpgIn her 2012 update on that article, Elizabeth talks about how other people interact with her son today: "We often say that Nicholas is a walking opportunity for people to be their best.

"When he's out and about - using his bank card, travelling on the bus, in his workplace - people can choose to a) take advantage of him or treat him poorly, or b) encourage him or assist him if he's having some minor difficulty. We are happy to say the human race is stepping up and scoring big points on the 'Nick-scale.'"

Nicholas is also an active member of the Voices At The Table Advocacy (VATTA) Committee, a group made up of adults with Down syndrome.

VATTA's mission is "to empower Canadians with Down syndrome and their families," and to raise awareness about Down syndrome in every stage of life, from prenatal to retirement. Through their diversity and advocacy efforts, VATTA believes equitable opportunities will become available for all Canadians.

ndsaw-group.jpgSo how can you get involved this week? Well, you can visit the Canadian Down Syndrome Society website to make a donation, and check back to the NDSAW site for a new update each day until November 7. And if you want to find out more about Down syndrome, the Society has an information page right here.

The Society's mission is to ensure all Canadians with Down syndrome have the right supports to give them the same opportunities that everyone else has. That's a cause worth getting behind.

And as part of furthering that mission, the 2013 Canadian Down Syndrome Conference will take place in Winnipeg from May 17-19.

It's the 26th year for the Conference, which gathers together specialists in various fields to share their knowledge of Down syndrome.


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