Charlee Reed is a happy, friendly and determined young girl who loves swimming and anything Minnie Mouse-related.

Before bed each night, she dances on her Minnie Mouse dance mat with plenty of enthusiasm.

She also has Down Syndrome.

Charlee's mum, Pamela, says she and her husband Daniel did not find out Charlee had Down Syndrome until after her birth.


"It was about an hour after she was born that we first heard she had it. There had been no indication at any of the five scans we had during the pregnancy."

While the diagnosis was a shock to Daniel and Pamela as well as Brooklyn and Eliana, Charlee's older sisters, Pamela says their love for Charlee wasn't affected.

"Initially we were stunned and confused and we weren't really sure as to what the future was going to hold but we certainly didn't love her any less."

Today, March 21, is World Down Syndrome Day and Pamela, says the family use the day as a way to educate Charlee's friends at school about Down Syndrome and what it means for Charlee.

"We started observing it last year when she started school as we thought it would be a great opportunity to make something positive come out of the day as Down Syndrome can be a scary difference to some children and parents if they don't understand what it is."

Today Charlee is taking in some treats for her classmates at St Joseph's Stratford, along with a note explaining what Down Syndrome is and how it affects her.

The school has been great for Charlee since she started last year, Pamela said.

"The school, the principal, the teachers and the students have been amazing. They have all taken a real interest in Charlee and every day is such a positive experience for her due to everyone's attitude with her and their inclusiveness."


For Charlee's family, learning about Down Syndrome took place in the first few months after she was born.

"We had so many tests and appointments to find out exactly what the diagnosis meant for Charlee. It was quite overwhelming to start with." Once things settled, the family were able to find out more from the local branch of the Down Syndrome society who Pamela says were very helpful.

"We also are lucky to have so much family support from both sides of our families which makes a real difference every day."

In many ways, Charlee is just like any other six year old says Pamela.

"She can be just your typical small child running around, but you do have to watch her closer and things can take a bit longer to get done at times, especially as she is non-verbal at this stage."

Pamela says this World Down Syndrome Day she would love more people to realise that Down Syndrome isn't something to be scared of.

"People with Down Syndrome can achieve all sorts of things in their lives. They aren't a burden on society or government resources. They can grow up to achieve goals and be productive."

Having Charlee in their lives has completed their family, says Pamela.

They all learn from her just as much as they teach her.

"One thing she has taught us all is patience."