When Sosena Tezera first discovered that her son Emmanuel had a gross motor delay, it was extremely difficult for her to accept the differences and challenges that she worried he would later face.
It was then that Sosena decided to go back to school to learn more about his needs and strengths. She enrolled in Advanced Special Needs Education so that she would have the best tools to raise her son and support him through life. What she learned through her education and in raising Emmanuel was that his differences were what made him so extraordinary.
She knew it was important to find Emmanuel an inclusive community that celebrated differences and recognized all abilities, which is when she found Special Olympics.
At the age of two, she enrolled Emmanuel in his local Special Olympics Active Start program. The family-centered activity program helps children with an intellectual disability ages 2-6 to develop basic motor skills such as walking, running, jumping, balancing and throwing in a fun and safe environment where they can make friends and realize their own potential.
Sosena says that she has witnessed Emmanuel flourish since joining the program nearly three-years-ago.
“It gave me such joy to see him comfortable enough to be himself and participate. While all children are unique, they all learn best when excited and engaged. Once Emmanuel found Special Olympics – a place where he is included, accepted and his differences are celebrated – I watched him thrive at his programs and at home.”
After watching her son come so far, Sosena wants to empower other families.
“Today, Emmanuel is a happy, bright, handsome 5-year-old. He has the drive to learn new skills and wants to be a champion at anything he does. As much pride as I have for him, I am also proud of myself for the advocate I’ve been for him. I want all parents of children with diverse abilities to know that you are heroes – and that you and your children are celebrated.”
When Sosena heard about Rise Little Earthling’s first-ever Differences Day, an initiative with the goal of instilling the same values that have been so important to her son’s development, she knew she wanted to take part.
“Instead of teaching certain children with differences that this is something that sets them apart, we need to teach all children that we all have differences, and they all deserve equal acceptance and celebration,” she shares.
June 23 is the first-ever Differences Day and Sosena and Emmanuel encourage everyone to join them in celebrating the differences that make us each unique - and extraordinary.
For every post shared to social media using the hashtag #DifferencesDay, Rise Little Earthling will donate 25¢ to Special Olympics Canada. Rise Little Earthling will also donate 10% of proceeds from all sales at Toys R Us on Saturday June 26, 2021 so that more children with intellectual disabilities can access programming in their communities - and a safe, inclusive space that champions our differences.
Share a difference that you love about yourself then nominate a friend to share their own and help spread the movement!
Learn more about the first-ever Differences Day: