Happy Valentines Day! I’m going to tell you about what it was like when I was very little and my little sister was born.
Hello, My name is Agnieszka and I’m 10 and I want to share with the world how much I love my little sister, Magdalena aged 7, (who happens to have Down’s syndrome) so I make films and blog about our lives. This is how it started……..
When my little sister Magdalena was born, I didn’t know what to think, I was only 3 & couldn’t work out if Magdalena was a very special toy or a perhaps a very, very, very old person who had shrunk.
But very soon I learnt she was my baby sister, a real very, very, very young human being, and I really liked the idea.
Magdalena didn’t cry at all as a baby, because she didn’t have the energy. So she slept a lot and when she was sleeping she looked like a purified angel to me.
Magdalena didn’t say her first words or walk till she was 4, and the years before that we spent looking into each others eyes lying on our tummies by the fire.
It was like Magdalena was part of my mum, wherever mum went Magdalena was with her, either in a sling, sleeping together or being breastfed in mum’s arms.
For me and my big sister Isabella, the first five years of her life were a very special time for us because none of us went to school, and we were all together all the time, Isabella did her G.C.S.E’s and got really good at the violin during this time and I learnt to read and write, finger knit, draw (a lot) and ride a bike. And because Magdalena was vulnerable, we all looked out for her and mum stopped whatever she was doing to breastfeed or wake her up out of a sleep that was becoming too long. I had to be very patient and wait for Mum to finish seeing to Magdalena, and in that time I learnt to do a lot of things on my own. By the time mum was able to help, I’d already worked what I wanted to know or do out! And I worked out I could do anything.
On my 6th birthday Mum, Dad and Isabella gave me my first ever digital camera, it was silver. I worked out how to use it myself and and then taught my mum how to use it. I learnt how to edit my photos on the computer and soon I was using mum and dad’s video camera more than they were and trying out editing on the computer.
One day mum was packing for us all to go away for the weekend, and she showed me a new website called Netbuddy, who had a competition to make an under 3 minute film about anything to do with disability
Mum said “Why don’t you edit a film together using the footage you’ve taken of you and Magdalena, showing what you get up to?” She knew if I was absorbed in something she wouldn’t worry about where I was or what I was up to, and she could get on and pack upstairs with Magdalena. I was excited to be allowed to do it all by myself and then mum told me it had to be finished by that evening to meet the deadline and said that the prize for the winner was an iPod. Isabella had just got one for her 16th birthday, and I thought it was so cool! So I spent all day practically without stopping working on this film, determined to complete it in time.
To my astonishment I won the iPod, which I still use a lot and really love! But the best bit was Netbuddy featured my film and I started getting really lovely comments about the film from people all over the world.
I started my own blog and website ‘agnieszkaproductions’ at this time as well, where I featured “my little sister” films as well as all the other things I love doing. As the year went on I was still making lots of films and of course my favourite subject to film was Magdalena, as she was always with me, and myself as I am obviously always with me too-my older sister hated being filmed, and my parents weren’t keen.
People started sending me messages asking me if I was going to make a sequel, I had so much footage so I did and this time made it longer. And people enjoyed it so much that I got more lovely comments about how they had found it inspirational and were showing it to teachers and families and people who didn’t have a very real picture of what Down’s syndrome is or isn’t. I felt I was doing something useful as well as what I loved most and decided to make a film about our lives together, every year. So that’s how the films about me and my sister started, I am now editing together Part 3 and having even more trouble trying to keep it short!
Three years since making the first film I realise how powerful film can be. I know more about Down’s syndrome and how a lot of people don’t know a lot about it, and how I want to celebrate my sister and who she is and our everyday lives through documenting it on film. I find it easier to show the world Magdalena’s wonderful personality and spirit through film than through words, it is easier to show my film than answer a tricky question or comment.
And I so want the world to see past the ‘Down syndrome’ and get to know who my sister is, what she likes doing, the funny things she says, her unique way of looking at the world, which if you have seen the films and heard her talk about woodlice and attempt a magic show you will know what I mean.
I want people to bother to make friends with her. This means they have to slow down, be patient to wait for her to find her words, to listen hard to hear what she is saying with all of her body not just her words. I’ve been with Magdalena when people have ignored her, treated her like a pet, not wanted to be her friend, seen mum upset by unkind things people have said. By making these films I’ve come to realise that people can see and hear a side to Magdalena that they wouldn’t otherwise know was there, and hopefully it will make them stop and think about other people with Down’s syndrome and other disabilities, and look and listen a bit harder to get to know the person and maybe make a new friend.