My Son, My Hero

This week’s blog is written by Sharon Genua who tells us about her son, Nino. Thanks Sharon, for sharing with us.

Nino was born on 12.9.98

He was diagnosed with Down Syndrome aged 6 months.

The Consultant said “He’ll never get a proper job” as he told us about the Down Syndrome.

It was a ‘rock your world’ moment that day. I went into complete denial, refused any support from anyone – to accept support made it real somehow – I just didn’t have the resilience to face that at the time.

I reflect on those days with sadness now, I just wish I had been stronger to deal with things. But I suppose we all react to things how we react and that’s it; maybe that’s why things have turned out how they have – once I found the strength to face it I became his Advocate. I’ve never given up one fight for Nino about anything, I’ve battled to make the world see how much he had to offer and I know that I know my son better than anyone else.

Maybe these days he is a reflection of my early inner battles with disability and how I grew, learned and accepted that it can be a glorious path to walk, holding hands and supporting each other along the way.

He’s been my teacher from the start.

Nino and his sister, Lia

Throughout Nino’s life we have had full support from both our families and I’ve just carried on everyday with a ‘this boy will do whatever he wants’ attitude.

He really flourished when at five we welcomed his sister Lia into our family. She became his little ‘big’ sister from the start & taught him so much. They are best friends and have a wonderful relationship…she really is the best sister he could ever need.

Fast forward 21 years and wow has my boy flourished.

He went to mainstream Nursery, mainstream Primary until 8 years old, mild & complex specialist setting then transferred to another specialist setting due to bullying when he was 14 yrs old. This was the best thing we ever did, he flourished, was happy, made amazing friends and really developed well in all areas of his education. Plus he got to see me most days as it’s the school I work at and I know it’s an amazing specialist school.

Aged 18 years he moved onto mainstream College with specialist classes. This is his final year and I can honestly say it has been such a positive experience for him. He loved going to college, hanging out with his sports course mates at lunch, seeing his sister at college and generally being seen as a valuable member of the course and the whole college.

He will officially leave in June 2020 and will be going on to work in a farm cafe with Brandon Trust, attend Choices For You – a sports based facility, work coaching younger children at Bristol City Academy and continue working as a Community Coach for Bristol Bears.

Nino started working with Bristol Bears 6 years ago on The Spectrum pilot Work Experience opportunity. He then continued until today where he has the proud honour of being a Community Coach & Community Champion for Bristol Bears Community Foundation.

He has coached over 50’s rugby, coached pupils at local schools with SEND, played in matches himself and works match days in Ashton Gate Stadium. The opportunities Bears have given to Nino are beyond what anyone would want for their child. He is a valued member of the coaching team and somewhat of a celebrity at Ashton Gate. 

Nino received a Parliamentary Award in 2016 at the Houses of Parliament for his dedication and hard work with Bristol Bears, a very proud day for all of us.

It was through Bristol Bears Nino made links with Bristol City, he has positive links with coaches and staff there, visiting the 1st team at their training ground and again, Bristol City treat him like a VIP.

Nino leads a full, thriving, productive, meaningful life.

He a Model who has been signed to Zebedee Management for nearly 3 years, he is a competing Special Olympic Swimmer, he is a goalkeeper for Mencap FC, he is a Community Coach and he weight trains 4 times a week. He is 100% health and fitness focused.

He has a beautiful girlfriend called Olivia and they’ve been together for 5 years….true love.

Nino strives hard to  achieve what he wants, he has various medical issues that limit his independence, but nothing stops him.

Nino and family

As his Mum I give him my full support and help him reach his goals.

I know he’s my hero, he inspires me to be a better person everyday. Down Syndrome is the glitter on top of his personality.