Four-year-old Arianna Graham wants to spread love and compassion to Federal Way. Photo courtesy of Andrea Graham

Four-year-old Arianna Graham wants to spread love and compassion to Federal Way. Photo courtesy of Andrea Graham

Family of girl with Down syndrome spreads positive messages around city

Family wants to show the community that 4-year-old Arianna is a joy to have in their lives.

Arianna Graham slid under the armrest of the chair and dashed for the door.

She would much rather have gone exploring outside the conference room, and gave a frustrated huff when her older sister stopped her from leaving.

Her mother, Andrea Graham, and sister, Kami Graham, laughed during a recent interview while the preschooler ran around the room, and said, “She’s our little escape artist.”

While she wasn’t trying to go on an adventure, she was watching a “Baby Shark” music video on her mom’s phone.

Arianna also loves giving fist bumps and seeing airplanes flying through the sky.

There is also something else that is special about this fidgety, fun-loving 4-year-old.

Arianna was blessed with an extra chromosome, her mother said. This is why her family is sharing special messages with random people in Federal Way.

They have these wooden signs that say “LOVE,” complete with blue and yellow decorative butterflies, that they’re placing around the city for strangers to take home through March 21 — World Down Syndrome Day. Attached to the signs are flyers with information about Down syndrome, and links to websites and Arianna’s Facebook pagewhere people can go to learn more about people who live with an extra chromosome.

It’s something they call “Love Landings,” and they’ve been doing this for two years in the different places they’ve lived to show people how Down syndrome has affected their lives in a positive light.

“So many people have a negative image of what Down syndrome is and we want to change that,” according to Andrea’s Facebook page. “We want to show the world that Arianna is a joy to have in our lives!”

The family also wants to challenge the use of the offensive word “retard” for something that’s considered stupid or ridiculous. One of the information flyers the family has encourages people to stop using the word.

“The use of the ‘R’ word hurts Arianna and all of her friends with Down syndrome,” the flyer states.

Andrea said Arianna came to them through adoption, and her family is so thankful that she did.

“She’s taught us so much about love,” she said, which is why the signs they hand out say “LOVE.”

When the Grahams first started Love Landing’s, they passed out butterfly chandeliers around Lakewood.

What they pass out every year varies on what cute knickknacks they’re able to find, Andrea said. It’s about the message they want to get out, not necessarily what it’s attached to. They want to increase awareness and compassion for people with Down syndrome, because along with the happiness Arianna brings to the Grahams, there has been a lot of struggle as well.

“I’ve seen mothers in play places grab their children and leave when they see Arianna,” said Andrea, who moved to Federal Way with her family in February.

It’s heartbreaking for her family to see people treat her this way because of her genetic condition. That’s why they started passing around the signs, Andrea said.

“We want to show people there’s so much more positive over negative.”

Even with her condition, Andrea said her daughter is very intelligent and can figure things out very quickly.

“She knows how to unlock all of the doors in our house,” she laughed.

In addition, Arianna, who is homeschooled, knows all of her ABCs, the sounds to all the letters, her numbers 1 through 20, all the core colors, some shapes and animal names. She speaks two languages — English and American Sign Language — and recognizes some works in Spanish and Japanese.

Arianna has such a bright outlook on life, her mother said. She’s always saying hi to everyone and she loves giving hugs and fist bumps.

When she was seven months old, she had open heart surgery to fix a heart defect she had. While Down Syndrome does not cause heart defects, it does open people with the condition up to an increased possibility.

But Arianna’s family wants everyone to know that Down’s syndrome is not scary.

In fact, people who have the genetic condition thrive. When Arianna grows up she’ll have the ability to get a job, learn to drive, go to college and live on her own.

“Really the only limits Arianna might run in to are those placed on her by society,” according to the flyer.

Despite the struggles she’s gone through at such a young age, Arianna loves to smile and spread love.

“That’s the point,” Andrea said. “We want to spread love.”

Raising a child with Down syndrome is a challenge, she said, but it’s a challenge to raise children without any disabilities. Andrea wants people to know that doesn’t stop Arianna from doing great things.

“I think if more people were blessed with 3 copies of the 21st chromosome, the world would be a better place.”

Four-year-old Arianna Graham wants to spread love and compassion to Federal Way. Haley Donwerth/staff photo

Four-year-old Arianna Graham wants to spread love and compassion to Federal Way. Haley Donwerth/staff photo

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