November 17, 2014

10 Gifts for Down Syndrome Advocacy

When we found out Addison had Down Syndrome it was very important for us to hear some positive feedback.  In our search for support we came to know and love a wonderful group of people who form the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Network.  In September F.R.I.E.N.D.S. hosts a Buddy Walk which raises money for everything from medical care for people with Down Syndrome to college scholarships for people with DS and those who have dedicated their lives to working with people who have special needs.  This event always takes place during our family vacation so we were not able to participate last year and we did not think we could participate this September.  We wanted to find a way to be part of this great event to celebrate the special way God creates us all.

As part of the event people assembled baskets to be raffled off.  We tossed around lots of ideas... coffee, tea, movie night... just to name a few.  What we actually ended up settling on started out as an advocacy basket.  We were going to fill it with items which promoted Down Syndrome Awareness... A T21 coffee mug, t-shirt, book...  But as we started to put it together we found a world of products made by people who have T21... pottery... stationary... art work.  And a world of products made by the caregivers of people with Down Syndrome for a plethora of reasons.... to raise money for their care... to create a business for their future... or to promote awareness. 

We quickly realized this was the ultimate in advocacy and awareness... this was proof positive that people with Down Syndrome not only can but are doing lots of useful, valuable and gainful, self supporting and meaningful things with their lives.  We renamed our basket, Possibilities...  A basket that shared just a sampling of the future possibilities for Addison, and all those who have Trisomy 21. 

As we embark of the Christmas season and searching for that perfect gift, please consider checking out 10 Gifts for Down Syndrome Advocacy.

1. Furnace Hill Coffee
I love this place! Coffee doing amazing things? Yes, please! Not only is their vision " employ developmentally disabled people in jobs while competitive jobs while providing high quality product that keeps customers coming back." [from their website] they also feature special blends of coffee for The Buddy Walk and The Arc, proceeds from which go to support those organizations. Learn more about their mission and the work they are doing on their website:

2. Christian Royal Pottery
Christian Royal is such a talented young man! Based in Charleston, Christian designs and sells the most beautiful pottery. The details are just amazing. Christian also has Down Syndrome.  From their website: "The stoneware incorporates the natural splendor of leaves or the artistry of beautiful laces, which are shaped into flowing designs and functional forms. The making of stoneware involves numerous steps over several days. Each piece involves Christian and his assistants in a collaborative effort, following many sequential steps. While some of the pieces may be similar, none are identical due to the process. Handcrafting produces variations in size, shape, color saturation, depth of impression, and minor imperfections that give each piece part of its appeal. Thus, the studio adage: Stoneware With The Charm of Things Imperfect and Simple." Visit to learn more.


For the next six days Christian Royal Pottery is hosting an project kickoff on Kickstarter. Head to their page to back and get involved in this amazing enterprise (with beautiful rewards for pledges 18+).

3. Sweet Sycamore
Jill Taylor is the mother of a sweet girl with Down Syndrome. Based in Richmond, Jill designs beautiful prints she sells on Etsy, such as this print inspired by her daughter. Visit Jill's Etsy shop, Sweet Sycamore.

4. Mt. Lebanon Soap Company
These soaps and so beautiful and even more beautiful is the story behind the creation of Mt. Lebanon Soap Company.  In 2010 Erin and Chris Csernica combined their professions of chemical engineer and massage therapist to create soaps to sell as wedding favors. In 2011 their first daughter was born with Down Syndrome. They decided to put all the profits they make into a special trust fund for her future and hope one day she will share this budding business with them. Find Mt. Lebanon Soap Company on Etsy.

5. KK Glass Art
From their website: "Kelderman Klassy Glass is a new microenterprise of Kailin Kelderman's family in Reno, NV. KK is 15 years old and has Down syndrome. All of her life she has been fully included in her community, attending school with her sister, Eilish, who is 13. We have always had high expectations for both of our daughters. Both KK and Eilish are enrolled in the Nevada Pre-Paid College Tuition program, so their college educations were paid for when they were young and we expect them both to go to college. This microenterprise began when Mary, Kailin's mom, took a class in glass fusion...She enjoyed it, took a few more classes, and started to see some potential for a future business. Kailin has always been very creative with color, but not so great at precision, and with glass fusion, there is the opportunity to create beautiful pieces of jewelry without the need to be extremely precise. Kailin has already created many beautiful glass pendants. We are hoping her interest will continue to grow and that this will eventually become an income-producing business for her. Currently, all family members are working on the new business and enjoying creating art together. Kailin continues to create, while Mary and Bill handle the glass cutting, drilling and wire wrapping. Our first showing of jewelry was at the 2009 - 2010 National Down Syndrome Congress' national conference in Sacramento. We sold a lot of jewelry and had a great time! Since then, we've done a few craft shows and are starting to market the jewelry in local Reno stores. Money from the microenterprise goes into savings accounts for the girls and reinvestment in the business."
Visit to learn more.

6. Stampin' Off the Path 
I love this "Keep Calm It's Only and Extra Chromosome" key chain from Stampin' Off the Path. Carissa, the mastermind behind this Etsy shop, is aunt to a sweet girl with Down Syndrome and made a bunch of these last year for her Buddy Walk. Find at Stampin' Off the Path's Etsy store.

7. The Henry Owl Initiative
From their website: "In 2012, [my big sis!] Kaitlin Wachter designed a plush owl for her yet-to-be-born baby brother, nicknamed “Henry”. A friend saw the owl and loved it so much she asked Kaitlin to create another owl for a friend adopting a son from China. Shortly after, the owls were added to A Stitch In Lives' inventory and from there the Henry Owl Initiative was born. Henry was born on April 28, 2013. Within hours of his birth he was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Shortly after receiving his diagnosis Kaitlin decided to donate over 50% of the proceeds from Henry Owl sales to support Down Syndrome Awareness. During a promotion from September 1 to December 3, 2013 over 140 Henry Owls were sold. A Stitch In Lives donated more than $1,000 to F.R.I.E.N.D.S., a Down Syndrome Advocacy group based in Frederick, Maryland. The Henry Owl continues to be A Stitch In Lives’ best selling product. We are proud of our owls and what they are doing to educate and inspire the Down Syndrome community and the world."
Visit for more info or find your owl at A Stitch In Lives

8.  Beauty In The 21st
Christina is a dear friend of my family and mommy to Madison, a brave little girl with Down Syndrome. At her Etsy store, Beauty In The 21st, she sells the cutest headbands and necklaces, including this headband and this necklace in the blue and yellow Down Syndrome awareness colors.
Visit Beauty In The 21st on Etsy!

9. Inspire 2 Aspire
Todd says on his website: "Inspires2Aspire, wants to inspire others, including individuals with disabilities and their families by seeing that they can do great things. This site exists because people like you helped me to achieve my goals even though the odds were against me. Many people inspired me to work hard at whatever I did and to never give up. I learned to believe in myself and others. Living my life has its challenges, but it's also a lot of fun! That's why my company Inspires2aspire. You can make a difference in someone's life by offering encouraging words, but sometimes the words don't come easily. Let us help. My cards are about my life and experiences. I hope they inspire others to take a chance and try new adventures."
Visit Inspire 2 Aspire's Store to check out their posters and notecards.

10. Miss Katie's Kreations
From their website: "Miss Katie Henderson is an internationally recognized artist who happens to have Down Syndrome. She grew up in Lake Ridge, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, DC and moved to Florida with her family in 2004. She used fashion design books to teach herself how to draw posing models...She practiced for several years before discovering her own technique. While sitting at the kitchen table, Miss Katie said to her dad – “Hey, Pops - Why don’t you be an entrepreneur and give me some money so I can start my own business.” Miss Katie’s Kreations was established in August 2011...Miss Katie has exhibited her work in both public and private galleries, juried fine art shows and events in Florida, Indiana, Texas, Washington, DC and Colorado. Miss Katie's original drawings and/or giclees have been purchased throughout the United States including 33 states and the District of Columbia. Miss Katie gained an international following with her works being sold in four countries - Mexico, Great Britain, Canada, and South Africa. In December 2012, "Marie Claire - South Africa" featured Miss Katie in their article - "Eye on the World - Florida Boundless Ambition - The Success of a 30-year Old Artist and Designer is Changing The Way We Look at Fashion." Her story has been featured on blogs, and in on-line fashion magazines around the world including Australia, Poland, Japan, Greece, Mexico, and Russia. In March 2013, Miss Katie exhibited her art in the Rotunda of the Florida Capitol." And if that wasn't  impressive enough, Miss Katie has done amazing work for Down Syndrome advocacy, including raising $2,200 for ARC and $1,500 for The Special Olympics. You go, girl!
 To view and purchase Miss Katie's artwork visit

And as a bonus...

11. Amazon Smile
If none of these gifts catch your fancy, no problems! You can still support Down Syndrome advocacy this Christmas by going to and choosing F.R.I.E.N.D.S. of Frederick as your charity. Amazon has pretty much any gift you could want and they will donate a portion of every purchase through to F.R.I.E.N.D.S.!

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