Did you know October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month? It's a time for learning more about what Down syndrome is, sharing the stories of people who have the disorder, and squashing stigmas and stereotypes. And 7-year-old Sofia Sanchez has successfully done all of that in one sweet, simple video.
Born in Ukraine, Sofia was abandoned by her biological parents at birth. A couple from California, Jennifer and Hector Sanchez, adopted her when she was 16 months old: The couple's youngest son, Joaquin (now 8), was also born with Down syndrome, and they felt inspired to help other children like him. They first sponsored Sofia through Reece's Rainbow Down Syndrome Adoption Grant Foundation — and then realized they couldn't live without adding her to their family.
Needless to say, Down syndrome awareness is a cause near and dear to the Sanchez family's hearts. Every October, they take the opportunity to speak out about the genetic disorder, and this year, Jennifer decided to let her daughter do the talking. In an Instagram video that has since gone viral, Jennifer sat down to ask Sofia a few questions about what it's like to have Down syndrome. "Little miss," the conversation begins, "do you have Down syndrome?"
Sofia goes on to explain that Down syndrome is "in her blood," and because of that, her blood is special. When her mom asks her if having this disorder is scary, her answer is short 'n' sweet: "No, it's not scary at all!"
The 7-year-old's bright spirit has been inspiring people all over the Internet, challenging all of us to change the way we sometimes see disability, as a shortcoming or obstacle that needs to be overcome.
Sofia's clip has been viewed more than 19,000 times since it was posted two weeks ago, and Jennifer tells CBS News that the response has been amazing: "I've read message after message saying, 'It's so inspiring to hear about someone who loves themselves so much'. I realized that I don't think people hear enough from people with the disability [who] describe just how great they feel about themselves."
In the end, Jennifer is just proud of the little advocate her daughter is becoming. Sofia has modeled in Target commercials and even played a bit part in Freeform's Switched at Birth, and she's always spreading her optimism everywhere she goes. "Sofia's joy is contagious," Jennifer told TODAY. "She shows the world that she is confident, happy, capable, and that really there is just nothing to be afraid of when it comes to Down syndrome."