Charlotte (Charlie) Fien is a DSC Community Member who has spent years advocating for individuals with Down syndrome. As a self-advocate she spoke at the United Nations- Geneva in 2018. She will be getting married to her fiancé Riley this summer. This month we interviewed Charlie to learn more about her work in advocacy and about her wedding.
1. How have you been involved with the DSC?
I attended the Puget Sound Buddy Walk in 2019. I was planning on being in the 2020 Style & Stars Fashion Show, but when it was canceled due to COVID, I watched the virtual event.
2. What does inclusion mean to you?
Real inclusion means going to the same schools as regular kids, being part of society and not hidden away. Being accepted for who I am. I have an extra chromosome but it doesn’t make me less of a human being.
3. What type of advocacy work do you do?
I have been trying to get the UN to sanction countries in Europe practicing eugenics. You can view my work here https://youtu.be/FHglwa8vlYg.
4. Why should other self-advocates get involved with advocacy?
Yes, every adult with DS needs to advocate. Our collective voices need to be heard. In the past, people like me were exterminated during Aktion T4 with their parent’s approval. In the 1950’s children with DS were chucked into institutions and forgot about. Institutions were replaced by ‘Special Schools’. Today, society has become cleverer at getting rid of us by using eugenics and abortion. The goal is the same. As long as people with DS have no voice the slaughter of our future community carries on. We must all speak out against this.
5. How did you meet your fiancé?
I met Riley in 2017 through my work at the United Nations in Switzerland. Riley saw my first speech at the UN and contacted me after he watched my speech go viral with 12 million views. We chatted on Skype for 6 months every day because he lived in Washington state and I lived in the UK. We met in person in April of 2017 in Olympia. In 2018, Riley came back to England and proposed after my summer job in New York for EMC Frontline. I moved to Washington on the 30th of August 2018. I started college here as a Sophomore. I’m studying Early Childhood Education and Child Psychology.
6. What are you most excited about for your wedding?
Wow, I’m excited about lots of things! I’m excited about taking our vows in our church, seeing my brothers, dad and family, my amazing wedding gown by Lela Rose and our honeymoon!
Charlie is looking for a few DSC members to be in her wedding! If interested email [email protected]