The Japanese rugby season finished in May of this year and most of us families headed home from Japan to our respective countries. As we were all quarantining in different countries around the world, with time to kill, I thought this was the perfect time to have a chat with a family we got to know this year; the Barrett’s.
The reason I am writing about Beauden this month has nothing to do with his rugby skills that he’s known for, but more about his beautiful relationship with his sister Zara or ‘Zars’ as she’s known. Zara has Down syndrome and is one of eight children..that’s a very busy family..I absolutely praise the parents! Down's syndrome is a genetic disorder when you are born with an extra chromosome. This usually occurs by chance. People with Down's syndrome have a range of abilities, some may be more independent whilst others may need regular care. It is universally present across racial, gender or socioeconomic lines in approximately 1 in 800 live births. Down’s syndrome usually causes varying degrees of intellectual and physical disability and associated medical issues.
I first witnessed Zara and Beauden together in the Newshub video (watch below) whilst raising awareness for the charity UpsideDowns. It was so heart-warming to see the love the Barrett brothers have for their sister and also the shine and cheekiness in Zara’s eye when she chatted with them or about them. Most noitceably it was evident her sweet spirit shines through and lights up the whole family, teaching one another to cherish all that life offers. I think it’s important to talk about their relationship and how the Barrett family have always strived to ensure Zara was included in all aspects of life, to ensure she always felt loved and never letting challenges stand in the way of achievements or integration.
Keep reading below for a quick Q &A I recently completed with Beauden..... (with the help of the lovely Hannah!)
What are your favourite things about your sister? What are her strengths?
Zara is very cheeky and always teases us about who her favourite sibling is (usually whoever buys her treats or compliments her the most). She’s very honest and keeps us all in line if we do wrong! She’s caring and compassionate and always enjoys a hug. She’s very talented and enjoys playing netball, swimming and is a very good doggie sitter.
How would you define your relationship with Zara?
We have a very good relationship. We communicate well and she’s constantly snap chatting me to see how I am. Zara has a special place in our hearts and it will always be that way.
Have there been any challenges for Zara growing up? (If so, how has she/ your family helped overcome them?)
People with DS usually struggle to be included or understood because typically their speech development takes some time. Thankfully she’s had really good teachers and support over the years. She’s so lucky to have amazing friends and my siblings have always included her in all activities. Occasionally its difficult to understand some words she says and that can be a little frustrating for her.
What advice would you give to individuals that have a sibling with additional or complex needs?
Treat them as you would another sibling. Include them in everything you do. Tell them how much you love them and how amazing they are.
What are your hopes for Zara in the future? What is Zara up to now?
Mum and Dad have recently bought 400 chickens which live and run free on our organic dairy farm. We sell the eggs locally with the profits going to UpsideDowns. This is Zara’s little business and next year when she’s finished school she will be very busy with that.
Thank you to Beauden for answering these questions, we really appreciate his time and commitment to helping others and raising awareness on the importance of inclusion. And an even bigger thank you to the superstar Zara for letting us share her story..you are amazing Zars and really an inspiration with your own business, we are so excited to meet you in person one day and bring the kids to your farm!!
I hope through reading this you have learnt something new, something that you can take away and remember just how important it is for everyone to always feel included and respected.I hope it can help parents, siblings, caregivers, family members know that although the road may have bumps our mindset and support network is vital, be confident to reach out and find your support network (online, in person etc) whatever that may look like.
Please send me a message or leave a comment if this post has spoken to you in any way.
You can donate & learn more about the Charity UpsideDowns here: https://www.upsidedowns.co.nz/about