Mid-South Hero: Woman becomes advocate for those with Down syndrome
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - This month’s Mid-South Hero has a passion for empowering and equipping individuals for a better life and a better future.
Martine Hobson is a native Memphian, and after the birth of her daughter Laurie, she found a new calling in life – helping others.
“After she was born I just became really passionate about the rights of individuals with Down syndrome and fighting for their rights and making sure that they got everything that they deserve and the same opportunities as everyone else, which is their birthright,” Hobson said.
With that passion, Martine went to work. As a volunteer for the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis and the Mid-South, she spent countless hours making sure those with Down syndrome had opportunities in the classroom, the voting booth, and in the work force.
Now serving as the executive director of the association, Martine has helped countless families on this new journey.
“I’d never met anyone with Down syndrome and so I had no idea the abilities they have, how witty they can be, how smart they are – if they’re just given the opportunity,” she said. “But then I think I wanted to share that with other parents – new parents that are frightened like I was, and unsure of what the future might hold.”
The Down Syndrome Association uses programs that are designed to empower and educate individuals with down syndrome. Martine has even helped spearhead some of these programs, like “I Can Bike,” which teaches individuals how to ride a bike in just one week, or the “Be Safe” program, which teaches individuals how to approach and interact with police officers in the community.
“Police officers that have not had an experience with someone that has Down syndrome might not understand.”
“I think awareness is so important because a lot of people, if they haven’t had contact with people that have down syndrome they have preconceived ideas. And a lot of those are low expectations that they can’t do very much, which it’s the exact opposite.”
“I just wish people would get out and meets some folks with Down syndrome and get to know them as the person that they are. Really get to know them. They would be so surprised at how very smart they are.”
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