In our search for women who empower and inspire us we are blessed to meet many amazing women who make the world a better place every day. One of these ladies is Oakley Peterson.
Moments after giving birth to her son Welles, Oakley discovered that her newborn child had Down syndrome. She was shocked, overwhelmed and unprepared for what life would look like.
Luckily, some wise friends shared with her the joy they found raising their daughter with Down syndrome. After this, Oakley began to discover on her own that Welles raises everyone around him to be better. She learned that there is nothing down about Down syndrome. That’s when she created her blog “Nothing Down About It.”
Last month, Courtney (our amazing founder and CEO) had the chance to sit down and interview Oakley and we had to share. Oakley’s story is beautiful and we know it’ll inspire you as much as it inspired us.
Courtney: Tell everybody a little about your blog (Nothing Down About It).
Oakley: So, Welles was born in 2013…. we didn’t know he had Down syndrome until birth... I worked in politics, and I love advocating when I’m passionate about something, but this of course, your child, there is no greater passion in the world. And I knew that I was going to be a big advocate for him. I just knew I wanted to do something. I didn’t know how or what. I didn’t by any means think I was going to do anything great or incredible, but I just knew I wanted to be a mouthpiece for him in some sort of way. So I started my blog when he was 1, so now it’s been about two and a half years. And It’s been an incredible outlet for me, and also I get to converse with moms around the world who have kids with down syndrome or moms who want to adopt kids with down syndrome. The main goal was to bring together this community of people who not just have experience with down syndrome, but also people that are intrigued by it and who want to know more and are looking for further education on Down Syndrome and really just show them what a light it is. And that it’s not a sad thing.
C: What amazes me about what Oakley has done, in two and a half years, she’s done this.... It’s brand new in so many ways. She has become this light in this community.
O: Welles has, for sure.
C: Welles has, but this mamma has because of being an advocate and to be so honest and real about the reality of living with, in so many ways, this gift.
O: It is yes. But, there are hard parts.
C: I don’t know how many of you know, but I’m the mother of a child with special needs. And so I always look to what Oakley does as not only for children with Down Syndrome, but all different types of special needs.
O: We want to reach everybody, right.
C: And how her being an advocate really buoys me up and allows me to think “I can do this” most days when it is hard and looking for the positive.
O: Right, right, right.
Then, they started to talk about our “Design the Good” contest held every October, when Oakley’s “Nothing Down About it” T-shirt won the contest.
C: The proceeds went to a really great charity that Oakley chose. Want to tell everybody about it?
O: Yes! So, the proceeds went to the United Angels Foundation, which is super dear to my heart. When Scott and I were dating and in college, and even before we were dating, when we were friends, we started volunteering together with United Angels Foundation. When they had their very first event I was one of the first volunteers. And I just loved it. I met with all these kids with different special needs, most of them down Down syndrome because the founder and creator Mark Leck has his daughter has Down syndrome, and that’s why he started it. We don’t have a lot of programs in Utah so it’s a great parent/family support group. They do all kinds of trainings and behavioral classes… it’s such a great foundation. Anyways, the day we had Welles, Mark reached out to us, the founder, which has become this great foundation here in Utah and they are looking to expand to other states as well. He came up the hospital, he and his wife, came up to the hospital and he was the one that said “You’ve hit the jackpot.” And that was like “OK!”... Like l was bawling and still in shock and still processing, but that was exactly what I needed to hear. Anyways, this foundation is such a huge and incredible support group for parents that are going through that shock and that trauma, and that continue with different new trials. Cause there are different things, just like typical kids, we have different bumps in the road.”
How serendipitous that Oakley had volunteered with this organization before she had a baby with special needs!
C: I just wanted you guys to meet this incredibly beautiful soul that is my friend. And, like I said, Welles is a light... What I love, and why I wanted you guys to sit down and listen to my friend Oakley is because she’s not going to give herself credit for this, but she is a light. (Oakley protests a little.. haha) She’s a mamma that advocates and is empowering other women in their lives. And that’s what we’re all about at Cents of Style, to empower women to live bold and full lives. And you’re doing it every day.
Watch the entire interview to learn what music got Welles really excited at the photoshoot (you’ll be surprised), what Oakley considers to be the best thing about the reality of their lives with Welles, and more:
Want a Nothing Down About It shirt? Click here.