TWO Cork women have joined forces ahead of World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) to create a limited edition line of T-shirts to celebrate people with Down Syndrome.
Douglas-based mum of two and advocate for people with Down Syndrome, Orla Brassel, has collaborated with local Cork businesswoman Jean McGrath of personaliseme.ie to produce the unique T-shirts with a proportion of each sale being donated to Down Syndrome Cork.
“I was looking online for family T-shirts or something to mark the day and was coming up short with Irish suppliers — everything was kind of UK or US-based,” Orla told The Echo.
“I knew Jean going back years so I decided to reach out to her and see if she would be interested in collaborating because she has a lot of T-shirt supply companies that she works with so we decided to design our own.
“She really welcomed the idea. She was thrilled to get on board. We wanted to tie in a fundraising aspect as well. Jean very kindly offered to donate a portion of the sale from each T-shirt to Down Syndrome Cork.”
Orla, whose three-year-old son Harry has Down Syndrome, uses her Instagram to share “life’s ups with Down Syndrome and everything in between”.
When she found out she was expecting a baby with Down Syndrome, Orla says social media was the complete antithesis to jargon-heavy medical literature and provided a source of hope and support.
“I went looking on social media and became immersed in a world of the positive side of Down Syndrome and families just playing out their lives day to day with kids who have the extra chromosome.
“What you could see from their pages was just pure joy — nothing down about it at all.
“Obviously there are a few medical conditions that can be associated with Down Syndrome, but on the whole, the perception around it is just the complete opposite to what the reality is.”
“When we had Harry, we just decided to share our story online just because I was thinking of me back then when we got the diagnosis who could I have reached out to, especially at a local and national level. A lot of the platforms I saw were UK or US-based.”
Ahead of WDSD, Orla says they have had huge support for the T-shirts.
“There are lots of kids T-shirts being purchased, which I think is great. It’s important to instill that message in them when they’re small, that inclusion is huge and it matters.”
The T-shirts are available to purchase via personaliseme.ie until the end of March.