To our parents, brothers and sisters and relatives. To our friends and classmates, to our colleagues at work. To our teachers, monitors, instructors and volunteers who accompany us. To institutions, politicians and company leaders. To ordinary people and to whomever wants to listen to us. This is what we would like to say to you:
We like to smile and to make others smile. Smiles are easy gestures. Moving your lips is enough. But what is important in every smile is its meaning. There are smiles that are given as an obligation, because of pity, and which do not help us a lot. But the smiles we are searching for and that we demand from you because they help us are different, they have other meanings.
We are happy and we enjoy being with our parents, brothers and sisters and other relatives. We feel that you love us, respect us and accept us the way we are. Sometimes we get angry and we argue, but in the end everything turns out well. We have enough with your loving smiles, with your support to our effort, your encouragement and your pride when we achieve our goals.
From our friends, teachers, volunteers and so on we like many things. We like to be with you because we learn together, we talk and discuss things, we go to the cinema and to concerts to enjoy ourselves, we go out for dinner, we travel… But, above all, we thank you for your friendly smiles of appreciation, understanding, kindness and happiness. We like that you accept us as we are with respect, never playing with our feelings and with kindness.
We know that all of you love you and that you act according to what you consider best for us… but not always realising what we really want. We need our education at home, at school, to be able to teach us how to become adults.We want it to help us realise our dreams and become important people in life and everywhere.
Because we also dream of being happy and we have the same wishes as everybody; to have our own life, to work; to live in our own house, with our family or our partner; to havefriends, to talk to them and to those around us about important things; to be able to organise our free time and to have fun with the people we enjoy with.
To make those dreams come true we need lots of things. In the first place, our own effort. Those of you who live around us know that from an early age we work hard in the home, at school, with instructors…. in order to get the farthest, to bring out all the good inside ourselves. We are in need of opportunities that with time and your help will take us as far as possible and with a smile of happiness.
We know that we have to work, too. Working makes us feel happy with ourselves and be useful; in addition, it allows us to earn our own living. We have had different jobs because we can do it. The work which is well done brings to us tired smiles of satisfaction and in our friends, smiles that acknowledge our effort.
However, it is difficult for us to find open doors to work. Very few companies have relied on us and employed us. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts. There are, however, a lot of companies who don’t want to be put at risk (is it that they don’t rely on us?) and do not obey the law. We ask them to get moving and to let us show them all we can do, which is a lot. We need smiles of confidence.
If we don’t work we cannot even think of living in our own house.Neither can we think of living according to our wishes. We cannot be as autonomous as we would like to or to do what we feel like doing. Even though we are preparing to lead an autonomous life, there are many obstacles in the way. This makes it hard for us to smile.
This is why we ask from institutions (who often promise but seldom act) more collaboration on their side, Disabled people have our rights but they aren’t always respected. All of us must collaborate to make them be respected if we want to live as equals. We need that institutions give us a smile of compromise.
We can do more than ask, however. We will not forget those around us. We like to show solidarity with them and to help those in need ( poor people, old people feeling lonely, sick people). We like to feel the respect among people. We like our city to be clean, without any kind of violence.
Due to all this and ,as a conclusion, we want to emphasize that:
- We are happy, like everybody, when we are respected and accepted they way we are.
- We want to be as autonomous as possible and to take decisions about the important things in our life.
- We want the regulations and laws which fight for our rights to be complied with because this way, and with the help from people around us and our effort, we will be able to make our dreams come true.
- We don’t want that this manifesto to end as the majority: after they are read and applauded they are forgotten.
- We want to see smiles, but sincere and committed smiles, the really helpful smiles.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The part of the text in CAPS and RED corresponds with the ideas that people with Down syndrome have expressed for the preparation of the manifest