I Met. I Saw. I Loved.

This week’s blog was originally written by Erin McCallum, 13, as a personal writing English essay under the topic “Something that has had an impact on you.” Erin is cousin to Rosie Bud McCallum, who features in the Wouldn’t Change a Thing book for new parents. Erin is currently in second year at Prestwick Academy on the west coast of Scotland. She says she aspires to teach PE “to help young people with disabilities feel included and realise their dreams – just like everyone else”.

The ringing sound that every kid loves to hear. Kids running out into their parents arms. After a long hard day at school I grabbed my mum’s hand as she tells me she has exciting news. She made me try and guess all the way home to keep me entertained.

It was an early spring day, the sun was smiling and the bad weather had gone to sleep. I remember being over the moon when I heard about the news. Getting shown pictures just made me so proud!

My grandparents were coming to collect me and take me to visit. By the time I got picked up it was around 7pm, which is very late to be going out for a seven year old! I remember feeling very nervous, I’m not sure why, but I was. I was in the car. It felt like my heart was pounding out my chest. I had butterflies. Crazy butterflies. We had arrived.

I started to shake – I honestly don’t know why. My granny grabbed my hand to cross the empty road. The car park was dead. It was pitch black, and the only light was the light shining out from the windows inside. I was so nervous. I couldn’t remember being in an environment like this before (although I had but I was still young at the time).

As we entered there were nurses rushing about here and there. Families were sitting nervously in the waiting room hoping they would get the news soon that a new life had been brought into this world. My heart felt like it had been pounding out of my chest as we arrived at the ward. Thump. Thump.

In these two small seconds many emotions and thoughts were rushing through my mind. We enter – there’s my auntie, sitting on the bed. Her arms are around this tiny little girl. She and my uncle were so chuffed. I remember thinking she was smaller than normal, like really small.

We were introduced to her. Her name was Rosie. We all got a wee hold of her, and she was so tiny she could fit into one of my 7-year-old arms. I knew she hadn’t looked like any other baby I had seen, but she was definitely the cutest. Her little rosy cheeks matched her name perfectly. Her little button nose was adorable. I overheard the adults talking about their worries and the uncertainties of Rosie and I wasn’t sure why. But on the way home my granny and grandad were talking about ‘Down’s Syndrome’. I had no clue at that age what it was, I had never even heard of it before. They explained to me and I was shocked. I didn’t really know how to react or what to do.

Fast forward 7 years. Of course there were a couple of worries in my family about Down’s Syndrome, and being uncertain is a horrible feeling. There were worries like school, her learning, will she make friends? Of course, it’s been challenging for all of us, but nothing better has ever come into our lives.

5 years ago my Auntie, Uncle and three younger cousins moved into a house two doors up from mine. It’s amazing. She’s the best thing that’s come into my life – for millions of reasons. She’s changed me for the better, and made me realise so many different things.

For one, I’ve learned never to judge anyone until you know them. I don’t think of Rosie like she’s got a disability. I see her just as I see anyone else. I’ve learned that there’s a person behind every disability.

When I am older, I would love to do something that helps people – such as becoming a PE Teacher or a Fitness Instructor – and make sure that people who have disabilities have the same opportunity as anyone else. I want to make them feel included, because as they grow up, they will start to realise that they are different. I would love the opportunity to make them feel as important as everyone else and show them that they can achieve their dreams – just like anyone else can.

Rosie is now 7, still tiny, but she’s 7. We see each other almost every day, but right now (due to the current lockdown situation) we shout across from our gardens and use facetime instead.

She’s my best friend, and I know we’ll grow old together as best friends.