My characters have taught me a lot. When I first started Embers, a character I hadn’t planned on showed up on the page. Alex was 15, a star basketball player at his high school and a favourite target of the school’s bullying trio. He also had Down syndrome. As I wrote my story, it was his that began to unfold. Alex wanted what all young people want: love, acceptance, a chance to go after their dreams. But he faced some unique challenges. Not the ones associated with living with his diagnosis. Those he’d grown used to. No, what he faced were limits others felt had been imposed on him since birth, qualities they subconsciously linked to his diagnosis and assumptions about what his adult life would look like. As a person who does not have Down syndrome, it was an intimidating task to write Alex’s story but it was a story begging to be written. As incomplete and imperfect as it might be, I hope that it becomes a starting point in a discussion that needs to happen. All life is sacred and everyone deserves the chance to dream big!

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