Wednesday, March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day. They are asking every person with Down's syndrome to tell the world 'what you bring to your community.'
One young man, Jonathon Hall, brought something very precious to his community. He brought change, but not only change but dignity, choice and independence for many learning disabled adults.Jonathon Or Jonnie had Down's Syndrome. When he was born in the 1960's, children with special needs were considered sub-normal. It was thought the best thing to do was to send them to special residential hospitals. The learning disabled children would live out their lives separated from their parents and family.
Jonathon's mother Elizabeth Hall MBE decided that wasn't in Jonathon's best interests.
"I took one look at his lovely little face and I knew I couldn't send him away," said Mrs Hall.
She firmly told the doctors what she intended to do and started a lifelong campaign for the rights of Down's and learning disabled people.
Her campaigns founded Andover and District Mencap which enables choice and independence in Andover community. Elizabeth and a group of like-minded parents thought their children should live their lives and have the same opportunities as everyone else. They set about creating those opportunities.
Mrs Hall was part of a team who were able to shut down 3 residential hospitals in the South West freeing the clients to return to the community. One of her last campaigns was the building of The Wellington Centre where Andover community and learning disabled adults could meet, learn and grow together.
The original parent group Senior Parents still meet at The Wellington.
Jonathon Hall has passed away. But his life inspired his mother to make our world a better place for learning disabled adults.
Jonathon brought change, choice, and independence to his community. On World Down Syndrome Day, Wednesday 21 March 2018, we remember Jonathon Hall and thank him for 'what he brought for all us, in our community.'