Rachel Leslie (right), her husband Gavin, and daughters Adele, Imogen and Stella, are hosting an afternoon tea for World Down Syndrome Day.
Rachel Leslie (right), her husband Gavin, and daughters Adele, Imogen and Stella, are hosting an afternoon tea for World Down Syndrome Day. Georja Ryan

It's time for acceptance

WHEN she laughs, the whole room lights up.

Like every five-year-old girl, Imogen Leslie loves to play with her sisters in the backyard, read books and drench herself in pink accessories.

But it hasn't all been smooth sailing for Imogen's parents, Rachel and Gavin, who have had to deal with some unforgiving people trying to dim her sparkle.

The only thing that separates Imogen from her peers is that she has Down syndrome.

Mrs Leslie said over the years she has had to hear horrific things being said about her daughter and wanted to let others in the same position know they were not alone, nor did they have to listen to those who didn't have anything nice to say.

"When Immy was eight weeks old, we were at the post office waiting for it to open and there were two elderly ladies in front of us, who looked as though they would have been grandparents themselves, who looked down at Immy in the pram and said to one another 'there's something wrong with that kid'," Mrs Leslie said.

But it's not only those who don't understand who have learnt their harsh words.

"When I was having an ultrasound for Adele, my third child, the doctor referred to Immy as a 'mongoloid'," Mrs Leslie recalled.

She said Imogen has also battled with her peers at school and said anyone else experiencing similar issues should seek support from organisations as well as friends.

"(My advice is) find a support network. We also have friends who we can talk to about it and they understand us and make us feel more accepted," Mrs Leslie said.

"If you can't find that in your current group of friends, you have to go and find it and Gavin and I are always open to talk if anyone needs it."

The Toowoomba and District Down Syndrome Support Group is the closest support group to the region, and president Lesley Nunn said it was important to find an organisation to help those with Down syndrome and their parents with various issues.

"It is so important to know you're not alone; that there's someone else out there like you, with the same issues," Mrs Nunn said.

To contact the support group, phone 4630 1324.



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