Monday, May 14, 2012

Leading with her heart

A day after the birth of her first child, Coleen Popp was handed a book on Down syndrome.
The specialist explained to her and her husband, Christopher Popp, that the best thing they could do now was to bond with their son Brendan.
“Before the day was over, that book was done,” she says. “I’d met a few people with Down syndrome, but I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t know what that meant for Brendan. I needed to know.”
Her husband went on the Internet and found all sorts of resources.
“That started our journey,” she says.
It was the family’s introduction to the genetic condition in which a person has 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. While symptoms vary and can range from mild to severe, Popp was determined that her son – and all others with special needs – should be accepted and treated like any other member of the community.
Becoming a mother to Brendan, her oldest son, also launched Popp on a quest to let people know of options available for children with special needs. Through her work with various organizations, including the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with Intellectual Disabilities, where she was recently named a board trustee overseeing education awareness programs, Popp aims to let others know about available options, as well as letting people better know the special-needs community.
“Having a kid with a disability is very overwhelming, yes I will agree to that,” says Popp, now 38 and the mother of three in Middletown. “But it doesn’t have to be either – there are resources available. If you have any doubts in your mind, erase them.
“For every time the doctor says ‘He’s not going to do this’ or ‘He can’t do that’ or ‘He’s going to have a hard time with this,’ erase that and let your son or daughter set their own boundaries and set your own goals and make sure you obtain them. Make sure they’re attainable because that’s what helped us.”
Her enthusiasm to educate others is an inspiration to many involved in special-need programs, says Anthony T. Glenn, the foundation’s executive director.
Read the full article here.

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