Here at Reframing Disability, we aim to change families’ experience from the earliest possible point so that they can build the best life for their child. So when I was looking for an older person with a disability to inspire parents, a young man called Jordan Cabrita came to mind.
Jordan Cabrita is a 24-year-old man from the Central Coast. He has three brothers, Jac, Joey and Bailey and one sister, Chloe. I have known his Mum, Danielle for many years, and we now find ourselves both Mums of Children who have Down syndrome. Danielle is further on in the journey than I, and I have watched closely how they do life as a large, diverse family.
Danielle’s Instagram feed is of Jordan on adventures and doing daily life. It’s all very ‘typical’ in form. Jordan gets up to the same fun and shenanigans as his typically developing peers, and it leaves you smiling and encouraged to give your child opportunities similar to what Jordan’s parents have given him. He is a firecracker with a very cheeky sense of humour!
In one birthday post, his Mum Danielle thanks people for celebrating Jordan and encouraging him to grow into the strong and determined man he is. I would agree, he is. And that’s one of our purposes here at Reframing Disability; we want to shift perceptions of disability, recognise our children’s strengths and support belonging in the community for all children with disability and their families.
I was torn on how to interview Jordan. After consideration, I thought I would send Jordan some questions rather than ask for a face to face. I wanted his voice heard, as often in face to face interviews, the conversation can be directed a certain way and can often leave things unsaid. The following responses are in Jordan’s own words and supported and scribed by Jane Beale, his speech pathologist. I am sure you will be encouraged by his grit and determination and all he has achieved.
When I was 16, I liked Fitness and my mum said I could start getting fit and healthy. I started watching Crossfit videos and films on Instagram when I was still at high school. I started doing Crossfit and found that I could do it the same as other Crossfit people. I could keep up. I became fit and strong and loved working out.
Other people saw me getting fit and started saying: “Jordan is really good at Crossfit.” I started going to the gym and working out. I could do the routines and exercises that everyone else was doing. I watched the trainers and tried my best to keep up.
I started going to Jett’s Gym in San Remo on the Central Coast to do work experience. For me, this was like having a job. I knew I loved the fitness industry, and I started getting support through the gym and through my NDIS goals to work towards my Certificate 3 in Fitness. I want to do more study – I want to get my Certificate 4 in Fitness when I’m 25.
My work friends at the gym are Nick, Sam and Ricci. They are at Jett’s San Remo. I also made other friends through my Fitness. My CrossFit friend is Zeke. He is from the Central Coast like me. Zeke became my PT (Physical Trainer) and helped me to lift weights and do other Crossfit workouts.
I use what I have learnt in my Certificate 3 in Fitness to plan Workout Of the Day. I put the WODs on Instagram and Facebook sites so other people can watch me and be motivated to get fit. One day I hope to have paid sites on Instagram and Facebook with my Crossfit friend, Matthew. It will be a Matthew and Jordan site (together).
My mum is proud of how strong I am and how well I am learning to speak up for myself. I am proud of having my own NDIS goals that I work hard to achieve. I do my own housework, I keep my own room tidy, and I cook meals for myself.
I tell everyone about my NDIS goals. I have a goal when I’m 30 to have my own house. I want to marry Bethany, my girlfriend, when I am 30. Bethany has Down syndrome the same as me.
My family and friends are important to me. My friends with Down syndrome are Matthew, Alex, Kayla, Anna and Jaqui. My sister, Chloe, also has Down syndrome. My best cricket friend is Sam. He has Down syndrome too.
I have a little friend called Parker. He has Down syndrome. He is eight years old. I tell him to go to the gym too and to be strong and fit so one day he can go to the CrossFit games like me. I tell him one day he can be a strong man like me.
I am proud of having Down syndrome. I think of myself as being a strong, fit man. I don’t think of myself as having a disability. I am the same as everyone else. My Down syndrome doesn’t hold me back. I can do things on my own. I don’t need people to help me. I want people in my life for friendship.
I will celebrate World Down Syndrome day by having my mum share posts about me on Facebook. She will be proud of me and will let her Facebook friends know. My dad and my brothers and sister are proud of me too. My dad and oldest brother Jac will also help me celebrate by commenting on my posts.
Today is World Down syndrome day, and it is a global awareness day that has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. The date for World Down syndrome Day, which is the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome, which causes Down syndrome.
It is our hope that the voice of people with Down syndrome and other disabilities grow louder. As evidenced above, families often make the most difference in the lives of children. When families are empowered and strong, children live THEIR best life. Jordan is one self-determined citizen of the world!
Happy World Down syndrome day.
By Deb Herbert.
Deb is a team member of Reframing Disability. She has worked in social justice and social change roles for numerous years in both advocacy and campaigns positions. She hopes to see and aims to work hard for a world of inclusivity and equal citizenship where we look for more similarities with people with disabilities and see less difference.
She challenges ableist views and hopes to help reframe them with positive representations of people living with a disability, and models of disability, where people with lived experience of disability are not seen as full, valued and included members of our community.
Deb and Chris had a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome for their daughter Elsden and are proud member of the T21 community. Deb was born in England but had been adopted by Australia for over 20 years. Married to Chris, he secretly would like to be a rock star. She has two children Elsden, who is the 5th Wiggle and Frankie who Deb is hoping will go on to play for her favourite football team, Sunderland. The latter is the lest likely to come true!