ROME, MARCH 6 – Marta, Francesco, Ilario, Pierpaolo, Carolina, Nicolò, Federica, Niccolò, Cristina, Spartaco, and Elena are speaking for themselves. These 11 people with Down Syndrome are telling their unique stories in a book entitled Giù. The book will be published on March 15 by Erickson, a company with an extensive catalog of books on learning disabilities and societal inclusion. The book is edited by Martina Fuga and Carlo Scataglini.
Marta Sodano, one of the 11 authors, has been chosen as the “testimonial” guest for the “Leave No One Behind in Education” conference at the United Nations in New York on March 21. The conference coincides and celebrates World Down Syndrome Day. at 25 years of age, Marta was born and raised in Bergamo, Italy where she works as an administrative assistant at a firm. At the UN, Marta will speak as a representative of Coordown – an organization that advocates for equal rights for people with disabilities – to share her experiences, in education, personal development, and the experiences that led her to where she is today. “personal stories have extraordinary strength,” she writes. “In this book, people with Down Syndrome will share their life stories and undermine preconceptions. There is no need to speak for them, it is time to listen to them,” Marta said.
The event will focus primarily on schooling with the objective to promote innovative programs that offer educational opportunities to everyone, including people with Down Syndrome. The event will gather international organizations, civil society, and the media to spread awareness on the necessity that children with the syndrome have to their right to inclusive education and equal access opportunities.
“Although Italy is a global leader when it comes to educational inclusion, there is still room for improvement,” said President of CoorDown, Antonella Falugiani. Falugiani noted that it is necessary that schools guarantee that teaching staff, educational resources, and necessary adjustments to the curriculum are adopted to ensure that no student is left behind.
On behalf of the upcoming World Down Syndrome Day, Coordown has produced a video titled “Lea goes to school.” An animated story of a girl with Down Syndrome dealing with her first day of school. The video highlights the impact that an inclusive learning environment can have on people for the rest of their lives. The video was adapted from the book “Lea Goes to School” that was published last Fall by Nord-Sud Edizioni.
In the book, Giù, the eleven protagonists share their experiences at school, with friends, and at work. They recount their passions, their love lives, and other aspects of their independent lives that leaves readers with the themes of autonomy, awareness, and faith in the future. The authors’ writing also interacts with some of the more difficult questions that parents of children with disabilities find themselves asking. “We want everyone to know who people with Down Syndrome really are in as much as their lives are similar to ours. Their ‘needs’ are not special, they’re human needs, as are their dreams,” said Martina Fuga, one of the book’s editors.
Fuga, an art historian, is also the Vice President of Pianetadown Onlus and is responsible for communications at CoorDown Onlus. She is the author of “Emma’s Backpack” (Mondadori, 2014) and “Art History for Kids” (Salani, 2017). Carlo Scataglini, the book’s other editor, has authored numerous children’s books.