DSC News

Spotlight On: Alison Winfield

Alison, Kate, Kirby, and Kirby

Alison Winfield is the fearless new leader of the DSC. She is currently serving her second term on the board, after joining three years ago. Alison’s involvement with the Down Syndrome Community has been expansive. She re-started the DSC Friends groups, participated on the Buddy Walk committee, helped get the grant for the Learning Program (through the Global Down Syndrome Foundation), and then took over the role of secretary when another board member vacated the position. When Sean King announced his retirement from the board, Alison stepped up to take on the role. She has big shoes to fill, but we are excited to have her youthful energy and non-profit expertise (she currently works at the EEU at UW) leading the DSC. We thought we’d ask Alison a few questions to get to know her better:

Why did you originally get involved with the DSC? I wanted to help provide programs for people with Down syndrome and their families, like mine. Alison is married to Kirby. They have a son, Kirby (9), and a daughter, Kate (7). Kate has Ds.

What is your favorite thing about the DSC? I enjoy getting to know different people – all with a special link to an amazing community. This group has been the best support system. Whether it’s questions about schooling, therapy, or behavior – I turn to the DSC first.

What is your favorite program that the DSC runs? I have two. I love the DSC Friends groups. Some of my best friends are people I met through our Friends group. I also love the Learning Program. It helps people see their child’s potential at an early age. It encourages parents to push their kids harder and have high expectations for them to be successful learners.

What would you like to see the DSC do in the upcoming year? I would like us to offer more consistent programs for the tweens and teens. Growing the current programs we have for that age group is a priority to me. I would also like the DSC to continue changing the perception of people with Down syndrome. I want to educate our communities and schools on the benefits of inclusion – not just for the child with a disability, but their peers as well.

What has been your greatest joy in raising a child with Down syndrome? The first time I see Kate, whether it be in the morning when we first wake up or when I get home from work, she greets me with the biggest smile. She is so excited to see me. There is really nothing better.

What has been challenging about raising a child with Down syndrome? Finding balance between being Kate’s mom and being Kate’s tutor/therapist is hard. The mommy guilt is real. It’s also challenging when people give Kate a pass – I expect others to have the same expectations for her that they have for other children. She is a feisty, spirited child and doesn’t need to be handled with kid gloves just because she has Ds.

What are your hopes/dreams for Kate?  My hopes for Kate are the same hopes I have for Kirby – that she finds what makes her happy and gets to do it.

What inspires you? My children inspire me. Kate consistently sets an example of what children with Down syndrome can do. She is independent and confident. She was the only kindergartener dropped off at the parent drop off at school instead of being walked in. She was a model in the Nordstrom catalog. She plays t-ball with her peers, and can now run the bases on her own. The acceptance and diversity shown by my son is something I am so proud of. He is empathetic and kind. He chooses to play with “Me Too” (Kate’s nickname since she follows Kirby around, wanting to do what he is doing, saying “me too!”) and her friends. He gets excited to see her when they’ve been apart.

Tell us an interesting fact about you. I was a competitive diver all through high school. That has fueled my interest in the Special Olympics. I am so excited that the 2018 games will be here in Washington State! 

With Alison as our President, we are excited to see where the DSC is headed in the next couple of years. Stay tuned!