National Sibling Day

Date: 10th April 2024

I can’t recall a day when I have not thought or spoken about Finlay. He is our youngest child, of five, and he rocks the extra chromosome. So today, on National Sibling Day, I choose to write about Rona, Emily, Grant and Vicki.

You see, in the days after the birth of our ‘bonus ball’ so many people offered support, encouragement and love. Amidst the cacophony of all of that kindness, and the occasional unsolicited advice, an older friend shared with me a wise and beautiful truth:

“In the years that lie ahead” he said, “watch how your other children grow and become very socially aware individuals, observe them become defenders of diversity and promoters of equality.  Allow yourself to feel some pride as they grow up with a unique insight and understanding of what it means to live in a world where you are perceived as different.”

He wasn’t wrong, that wise older friend.

Today, and every day, I burst with pride at the way Vicki, Grant, Emily and Rona embrace their younger brother who has Down’ syndrome. Each has a very special and unique relationship with him, and they love him dearly and are loved in return a hundred-fold.

I have watched them play, learn, laugh, cry and get frustrated with their younger brother in equal measure and, as they carve out their own place in this world, I have seen them tackle prejudice, spread understanding and champion inclusion.

They each face their own challenges and we celebrate their success in their chosen and different fields, but they are connected by a golden thread of kindness, tolerance and social justice.  They are all sibling warriors.

So, today on National Sibling Day I say ‘thank you’ to Vicki, Grant, Emily and Rona (and siblings everywhere) and we continue celebrate the gift of young Finlay, our bonus ball, who just keeps on giving.

Eddie McConnell is Chief Executive of Down’s Syndrome Scotland and Chair of the Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities.  A version of this blog was first produced in 2018 to celebrate World Down’s Syndrome Day.