As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, rape and the murder of her father when she was a small child, Yvonne Pierre continues to use her gifts to bring about positive change. Yvonne is a proud wife and loving mother of two sons. Her youngest was diagnosed with Down syndrome (Ds) after birth, this ignited her passion for using her voice to make a difference. Yvonne’s journey of advocating positive awareness for Down syndrome started in 2004 when she launched “Have Ya Heard,” an online community that evolved into “HYH Rise Awards” in 2011. The awards were an online event celebrating and honouring those who are making a difference in the Ds community. Her mission is to show the positive side of having a child with special needs. In 2016, she wrote a novelette “Zoey” which tells the story of a couple who has a four-year-old daughter with Down syndrome. Below is my interview with Yvonne about her story, her struggles, and her new book.
Phillips: How did you overcome illiteracy, addiction, sexual assault and the negative obstacles that you faced?
Pierre: It was going through a process of self-forgiveness and really tapping into and understanding the spiritual realm of life. I had to realize that God has a greater purpose for me. It was a process of working on myself and fixing all the things that I brought upon myself.
Phillips: What inspired you to write “Zoey”?
Pierre: I was inspired to write ‘Zoey” for a couple different reasons: one, I have a son with Down syndrome and I have been advocating for more than ten years. I wanted to give a voice to parents who are struggling to cope with having a child with special needs. I have seen a lot of parents that really struggle with it and I wanted to focus on the positive side of having a child with special needs
Phillips: What is the positive side of having a child with special needs?
Pierre: There are a lot of blessings that I have taken away from having a child with Down Syndrome. Without uttering a word, he has taught me that life is so much bigger than what the eye can see. This whole journey has been very eye-opening and spiritual. I’ve learned to find the blessing in the challenges and ups and downs.
Phillips: What advice can you give to parents that have children with special needs?
Pierre: Your child deserves and needs to have unconditional love at home, so find a silver lining in your journey. Educate yourself, network with other parents, and join support groups. Parents are a blessing because they have experience and knowledge that can help you on your journey.