Health

Down's syndrome teenager addresses the UN in Geneva

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A teenager with Down’s syndrome has addressed the United Nations in Geneva to call for more equality.

Kathleen Humberstone spoke out against discrimination during the event marking World Down’s syndrome day.

The 17-year-old travelled from her home in Surrey to Switzerland with her mum Denise and dad Andy to give the talk in front of hundreds of people.

She began by saying: “I can’t believe I’m here, at the UN, in Geneva! Do you know why?

“Because I have 47 chromosomes. That’s just crazy!

“Thank you Down’s syndrome!”

It’s as a new test is introduced which allows women to find out more accurately if they’re expecting a Down’s baby.

Kathleen marking World Down Syndrome Day

The theme of the 2017 campaign is #MyVoiceMyCommunity – aiming to enable people with the disability to be treated equally in all aspects of life.

In Kathleen’s speech she said: “After college, I am planning to live independently.

“Just like everybody else.”

Mum Denise told Newsbeat about how proud she was to see her daughter get up in a room full of important UN policy makers, but it’s scary some people still choose to abort because they are having a Down’s baby.

She said: “I feel rather mixed emotions right now; on the one hand I’m incredibly proud of Kathleen’s achievement.

“But on the other hand I feel like I have to show off her every achievement just to show and remind society that her life is worth living.”

Denise and Kathleen enjoying the event

Kathleen spoke about testing in her speech too, saying: “I love everybody. I can’t help it!

“I hope everybody loves me. I have Down syndrome.

“Is that so wrong?

“So, why all this testing? Why? I love my life!”

Kathleen Humberstone

“My parents didn’t know I have Down’s syndrome, they don’t care about Down’s syndrome.

“They love me.

“I have a younger brother, Andy, he is 13, and a younger sister, Jessica, she is 15.

“They don’t care I have Down’s syndrome.

“They love me.”

Kathleen posing for Radical Beauty Project

Before Geneva, Kathleen posed for Radical Beauty Project who challenge opinions in the fashion industry by using only models with Down’s syndrome.

“My dream is to be a fashion model, and maybe, one day, I can do a catwalk in Paris, London, New York, Geneva, anywhere.”

From 2018, the new test will be offered to all pregnant women who have been found through initial screening to have at least a 1 in 150 likelihood of having a Down’s baby.

Denise continued: “Whatever happened to unconditional love? When did society decide we should want and love a child only if it is as perfect as medical research allows?”

Kathleen wants to be a fashion model

Lots of people have been sharing their support for World Down’s syndrome day.

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