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Trudell to appear on mega screens in Times Square

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Trudell Edwards shows the Bermuda flag on Saturday in New York at a walk to raise awareness of Down syndrome (Photograph supplied)

If you happen to be in Times Square on Saturday, look up at the mega screens for a glimpse of Trudell Edwards.

The 16-year-old was one of 500 children, teens and adults chosen to help “promote the value, acceptance, and inclusion of people with Down syndrome”.

Trudell’s picture will appear as part of a one-hour video that will screen during the NYC Buddy Walk, an annual march by thousands of people from around the world.

Trudell will be in Manhattan especially for the event along with his mother, Selina Dawson.

“They usually send out an e-mail asking people to send in videos or pictures of their loved ones with Down syndrome to appear in Times Square.

“Over 2,400 pictures were submitted from around the world. So that’s people from as far as Iceland, Finland, Africa; it’s global.

“I had submitted my son’s picture from Bermuda and he was selected. And then they extended an invitation for us to participate in the Buddy Walk so we will be going up [today] and the walk is on Saturday. He’s very excited.”

Trudell Edwards’s picture appeared on a mega screen in Times Square on Saturday to raise awareness of Down syndrome (Photograph supplied)

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that is typically “associated with physical growth delays, mild to moderate intellectual disability, and characteristic facial features”.

Ms Dawson, a certified nursing assistant, was told her son had the condition when she was 27 weeks pregnant.

“Determined she would have him, she immediately started researching and also founded the Bermuda Down Syndrome Support Group.

Stepping stones: Selina Dawson and her son Trudell Edwards, whose picture will appear on a mega screen in Times Square on Saturday to raise awareness of Down syndrome (Photograph supplied)

“I read up about it. There was some good and there was some bad and that's when I actually joined the National Down Syndrome Society in New York. I wanted to get information because I couldn't find any information here.”

Trudell is “high-functioning” and lives “a normal life with some challenges”, Ms Dawson said. Her big concern is what will happen to him once he graduates from CedarBridge Academy.

Thriving: Trudell Edwards’s picture was selected from 2,400 submissions and will appear on a mega screen in Times Square on Saturday (Photograph supplied)

“My son loves music, he loves to dance …. he’s very sociable. He has a lot of friends. He loves football, he loves to bowl, he loves [many sports] but they don't accept him.

“They don't offer these kids a chance to show what they can do. They don't give them that opportunity. And I think it's very unfair that they don't get to shine in the way that they can.”

School is another problem as the curriculum hasn’t been developed to accommodate children who have Down syndrome or other special needs, she said.

“We have to have our children in school, but there is no real education and it's just been challenging. He went away to England for three years, because I was having the challenge of them giving him the education that he needs here. They don't have a full programme here for these children.”

The programmes in the US and elsewhere help many people with Down syndrome attend university and find employment. Some get married, run businesses and have children of their own, Ms Dawson said.

“It just depends on the work you put in. You definitely have to put the work in. I don't know why, but there was once this myth – they were told that they couldn't do this and they couldn't do that. And I think here in Bermuda, we’re still stuck on that old myth.

“I would like to challenge the government. I would like to have them [include in] their curriculum at the Bermuda College training, not just for people with Down syndrome, but people with functional and dysfunctional disabilities. They take long to learn but once they develop that skill it’s actually theirs and they own it.”

Also needed in Bermuda for the estimated 200 to 300 people with the condition here, are independent living facilities where they can learn to “cook and clean and be responsible for themselves”, she added.

“They have these facilities across the US and in the UK and other parts of the world. They learn how to drive a car, ride a bike, get married and raise families. It’s definitely been an eye opener for me since I’ve had my child.

Stepping stones: Selina Dawson and her son Trudell Edwards whose picture will appear on a mega screen in Times Square on Saturday to raise awareness of Down syndrome (Photograph supplied)

“My son was born with a heart condition. To see him thrive, it's phenomenal. Each day is a stepping stone for him in the right direction, but I'm the one that gets nervous.

“Once he finishes CedarBridge, where does he go from there? There's no avenues. There's no channels for these young people once they come out of school.”

Trudell Edwards’s photo will appear on two mega screens above Dos Caminos restaurant in Father Duffy Square on Saturday. The presentation will also stream live on the NDSS Facebook page from 10.30am to 11.30am. For more information: www.ndss.org. Support Trudell’s fundraising efforts for the NDSS under Team Bermuda Sandy Beaches here: bit.ly/3qDxPcU

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Published September 15, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated September 20, 2022 at 8:35 am)

Trudell to appear on mega screens in Times Square

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