The birth of a child is an experience that parents anticipate with joy and excitement. Mia and Tyler Willson are no exception to this rule.

Shortly after the birth of their second child, Mylie, they received news from their doctor that Mylie had Down syndrome. Being unprepared, the Willsons were initially filled with fear, especially because Mylie had medical issues that needed immediate attention. Once her health was stabilized, their fear subsided and they have been settling into family life with a new baby, just like any other family.

A parent from Alpha Resource Center’s Children and Family Services contacted Mia Willson early on. Through the Family First program, which provides education and training for families with children with special needs, Mia Willson met Jamie Weitzman, another mom of a baby with Down syndrome.

Together, they have been unstoppable in actively communicating the truth about the joy of having a child with Down syndrome. They have spoken to students at several elementary schools and sponsored an essay contest about disabilities to promote an environment of inclusion, as well as sharing their experiences with families in need of support.

Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara and partnering agencies are sponsoring the first Ability Awareness Walk and Roll in conjunction with the California Lemon Festival in Goleta. The walk will begin at 9:15 a.m. Saturday at Girsh Park.

There will be a reading of the winning essay from the main stage. Performers of all abilities will share their talents along with other ability awareness activities.

Marisa Bourke represents Alpha Resource Center.