Local girl named International Ambassador for Nothing Down
Courtesy of Nothing Down
When the parents of Gianna Scauzillo found out that she was to be born with Down syndrome (DS), they experienced the same anxieties that affect any other parents of children with DS.
But, they found out that, as a family, they would come to experience things much greater than themselves or the diagnosis of DS.
Five-year-old Gianna Scauzillo of Brevard County recently has been recognized as International Ambassador for an organization called Nothing Down, which seeks to destigmatize Down syndrome and to spread awareness about families with DS.
“We received a prenatal diagnosis of a heart defect which then led us to finding out Gianna would be born with Down syndrome,” said Gianna’s mother, Amanda Scauzillo. “There were moments of fear, grief and uncertainty because we were about to start a journey less traveled than most.
“Not knowing much, we took to social media and
Google and started to educate ourselves on what life with Down syndrome may look like for us,” Scauzillo continued. “So much of the information was outdated and honestly began to make things scarier for a new parent/family. Once Gianna was born, I realized that she is more than any diagnosis. Most importantly, that she was a baby first and needed to be loved and cared for just like we did for her big brother.”
After Gianna was born, the Scauzillo family connected with the Down syndrome Association of Brevard and began a Facebook group called Peace Love Gianna and “... naturally became a family of advocates.”
Since then, Gianna and her family have participated in multiple organizations and fundraisers, including the well-known Buddy Walk, where Team Peace Love Gianna raised more than $10,000 in support of the Down syndrome Association of Brevard.
Nothing Down started in 2016 and the International Ambassador Program began in 2018, and has since gathered representatives in eight different countries and 22 states in the U.S. As an International Ambassador, Gianna participates in photo shoots, viral videos and the promotion of up-to-date education and resources for parents that receive the news of a DS diagnosis.
“Gianna loves the camera, she loves having an audience,” Scauzillo said. “She’s only 5, so I don’t think she really understands it all. But, I think it’s a great opportunity for us to just share a little bit more about how our typical family (can have) a Down syndrome diagnosis in the mix.”