When Andrea Knauss gave birth to her third daughter, Anna, 25 years ago, a nurse came into her hospital room and told her, “God has a big job for you!” The hospital photographer told her, “I guess you don’t want pictures of your baby, do you.”
Anna was born with Down syndrome, and the hospital social worker Knauss consulted couldn’t even point her toward a book or video that would help her know what her daughter might be like in the future.
Now Knauss and co-author Elizabeth Martins have created “Reasons to Smile: Celebrating People Living with Down Syndrome,” to educate and raise awareness about and acceptance of people with special needs.
The book includes 56 encouraging and eye-opening short stories written by or about people living with Down syndrome all over the world. The stories – including Knauss’ tale called “I Am Anna’s Mom” – are paired with candid “slice-of-life” photos that provide inspiration and connection.
The book is designed to offer parents and families of children living with Down syndrome positivity and valuable guidance. It also includes stories that will offer insight to special-education teachers, social workers, mental health professionals and policy makers. A hospital social worker at the bedside of a new mom who has a child with Down syndrome now has a positive resource close at hand.
For anyone looking for information about Down syndrome, the book is a window into a world of possibilities.
The book includes a foreword by Keith Harris, whose son Tim owns Tim’s Place, the first restaurant in the U.S. owned by a person with Down syndrome. Tim’s Place, in Albuquerque, is known for “breakfast, lunch and hugs,” and Tim gives out those hugs himself, acting as a Down syndrome ambassador in the community. To help others like him become entrepreneurs, Tim launched Tim’s Big Heart Foundation. And a portion of the proceeds from “Reasons To Smile” will be donated to this effort.
World Down Syndrome Day is March 21 this year. If you want to celebrate with a heart-lifting read, visit www.reasonstosmilestories.com.