What Love Looks Like

2018 09 21 what love looks like web 01When Robyn Young first called fellow Pacific Hills mum Michelle to ask whether Michelle’s son BJ would like to come over for a playdate with her son Josh, she never expected the response she received.

BJ had made it to Year 5 without ever being invited over for a play or party. He'd been to class parties but that had been the extent of his out of school interactions. The unexpected call from Robyn had moved Michelle to tears. The thought that another family wanted to love her son and open their house to him, had deeply impacted her.

One in every 600 babies is born with an extra chromosome resulting in Down Syndrome. BJ is that one in 600, and this is probably why he had never been invited for a play or party. People just aren’t sure they’d know how to deal with children like BJ.

Before New Hope School was established, BJ attended Pacific Hills with his siblings. Michelle explains, "BJ always loved Pacific Hills and his class and teachers had been beautiful. Being in a mainstream class really helped his speech and social skills. I know the teachers would have had to work a lot harder to manage his short attention span! BJ learns differently, slower and requires lots of repetition. He learns visually and by doing not listening. When BJ started prep, I remember he hi-fived at least fifty people on our way to the car each day!”

Since starting at New Hope School, BJ has flourished into a very social 15-year-old who likes to sing, dance and act. He also loves to throw a ball around with friends from Pacific Hills who come and visit some lunch times. He's now enjoying horse-riding every Tuesday too!

Five years have passed since that first phone call and Josh and BJ remain friends. They continue to visit each other during the school holidays, BJ's had Josh over and they’ve gone to the movies together.

Michelle says, "I like how Josh treats BJ as normal, all the kids in his class did. My husband Andrew and I go on the school camps and for the Year 5 camp, there was a bonfire. I was watching BJ and another student Adrienne Bloom interact with one another. It filled me with joy seeing their conversation flow. BJ will talk a bit at home but in public he will often sign or thumbs up but will not talk. With Adrienne, their conversation was amazing.”

Like so many other Children with Down Syndrome, BJ is loving and caring. “I remember we were on the train one day going into the city and there were a group of five elderly people. One man in the group had a hat on and a walking cane and he looked really grumpy. I realised that he was blind and was maybe having an off day. BJ sensed something was wrong so he went up to him, took his hat and within a minute or two, they were laughing and talking. BJ knows when somebody is sad. He will go and sit with that person and hold their hand. He just makes you feel better and he does that everywhere he goes".

Michelle finishes up by saying: “When I think of superheroes, I think that BJ is super love. God is love and BJ shows love to everyone. He loves people and he doesn't get angry or hold any grudges if people hurt him.

All the people named in this story are “Hope Heroes”. Who knew the power one simple phone call would have on the life of someone else and their family? Yet this is what love looks like in a Hope context. Turns out that embracing one another in friendship is a beautiful representation of God’s kingdom on earth.

Pacific life stories are brought to you by Pacific Vision Foundation.

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