Pat Sparrow is tall inside, not outside. That’s how he describes himself, according to his mother Betty Sparrow.
“My older son is 6’5” and my sons in law are all very tall also. Pat says that he is “tall inside, not outside. That’s how explains himself.”
As a young child, and especially in school, Pat was always the “different” kid. There were a lot of kids with learning disabilities, but because Pat had Down syndrome, he was the only obvious one.
Pat was thirteen when the family moved to Grande Prairie in 1985. He went to Crystal Park School until Grade 6 and then moved on to the Composite High School. Betty remembers that Pat’s enthusiasm often got him into trouble and “he was a kid, just doing what everyone else was doing.”
Pat continues to live at home and spends time with his family. Betty says that, in a way, it would be good for Pat to live in a group home but he is used to living in a quiet atmosphere, so may encounter difficulties.
Pat volunteers at the Fire Hall and at the Police Headquarters as well. He was awarded a plaque for his volunteerism. Pat raised money toward the purchase of a bulletproof vest for the police dog. He collected bottles and spread the word until he reached a sum of $25.00. Pat has a paying job at Trend Home Improvements. He is saving his money to buy “a new house with two bathrooms.”
Pat is able to do much of his work independently but Betty doubts if he could ever live on his own. One of the problems is that he does not fully understand money. Betty knows that Pat could be easily led and that could cause him problems if he did not have a support network in place.
Working with the men at the different job sites has been great for Pat. His father has passed away, so the male companionship is a great influence on him and he has matured a lot since entering the work force. Pat now says that he is too busy to get in trouble is able to “walk away from problems.”
Pat’s favourite music is from the movie Grease. He knows every dance movement and every song. He has devoted an entire wall of his bedroom to the movie, with posters and figures set up on display and watches the movie almost every day.
Pat has a very strong visual memory and is able to read in his own way. He has been collecting wrestling magazines since 1985 and can locate remembered articles with no problem. One time Betty discarded an issue and Pat knew right away that it was missing. She had to send away for a replacement.
The whole family is behind Pat and Betty appreciates the fact that the adult nieces and nephews all call him “Uncle Pat” rather than just Pat.
My Special UncleBy Pat’s niece Annie Jackson
I have an uncle. His name is Patrick. There is something special about Pat. He has Down Syndrome.
Pat is like everyone else in the world. He has many feelings just like you and me. No matter what I love him.
Do you know what Down Syndrome is? Our bodies are made up of billions of cells so small you can only see them under a microscope. Inside these cells are chromosomes.
Most people have 46 chromosomes in each cell. 23 from your Mother and 23 from your Father.
Pat has 47. This all happened before he was born and was only nature’s doing.
It takes people like Pat longer to learn things. And he looks different than other people too. My grandma had to be very patient and understanding with him to help him learn many things that other people would learn faster.
My mom tells me that Pat was a very normal brother. Sometimes cuddly and sometimes a pest!
Pat will always have Down Syndrome. Anyone could be handicapped, in a wheel chair, be blind or lose an arm or be born with D.S.
Everyone is different.
But we all have feelings and should treat other handicapped people the way that we want to be treated.
My mom always tells me that it’s not what’s outside that counts but what’s inside.
Pat is now 17. He goes to school in Grande Prairie and is very special to my family.
The next time you see someone with a handicap remember it could be someone YOU love.
My Little Brotherby Pat’s sister Maureen Sparrow
My little brother may be different from another,
But we love him just like the other.
He is not as smart as another child might be,
but it is clear for you to see, that we love him
as much, as much can be.
When he gets older, he’ll have to be bolder,
To get a job and try and hold her.
He’ll have to go to a special school,
where patience and kindness are the rule.
He’ll have to study and learn as much as he can,
So he can work and be happy when he’s a man.