By Brock Ormond
BELLEVILLE – It was a once-of-a-lifetime opportunity for a Madoc woman last week.
That opportunity for Nicole Flynn was to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. She and her family joined MP of Hastings-Lennox and Addington Mike Bossio for the meeting in Trudeau’s office in the main Centre Block building on Parliament Hill.
Flynn said her reaction to meeting Trudeau was pure joy.
“I was too excited. I wanted to hug the Prime Minister – but I knew I shouldn’t do that,” she said.
During the meeting, Flynn presented Trudeau with a poem she had written, entitled “I Am Not Invisible.”
Kathy Primrose, Flynn’s mother, said that her daughter’s inspiration for writing the poem was after many events of her being ignored in public or people not being entirely sure if she could make a decision on her own.
“She didn’t just sit down and write (the poem), it happened over months…it typically happened when we were driving, she would say these things and we’d have to pull over so she could write them down.”
“Then, we realized she had put them all together…she entered into a competition for International Day of Persons with a Disability in 2010 , and it was one of the poems selected to be published, so that was pretty neat.”
Flynn and her parents also got the opportunity to tour the Parliament Hill on their trip.
The 23-year-old has Down Syndrome, a condition caused when a person is born with an extra chromosome to make 47 instead of the regular 46. It was described by British doctor John Langdon Down in 1887, but it wasn’t until 1959 that the cause of the extra chromosome was determined.
Nicole is a self-described “athlete, artist and advocate” for people who have disabilities. She has won many medals in swimming competitions, both synchronized and speed swimming, over 15 years. She is a photographer as well, with a passion for taking pictures of nature and wildlife. She has participated in plays and has danced in the past. Also, she has advocated for people who have Down Syndrome or developmental delays by becoming a motivational speaker.
Flynn has been making a name for herself over the last few years, but Primrose admits she was surprised at the amount of traction the story got.
“There has been an awful lot of action on Facebook with the pictures on both Mike Bossio’s Facebook and Nicole’s,” she said.
“It’s obviously touched people’s lives. We’ve had people phone the house. We’ve had people we hadn’t heard from in years step forward and say ‘we’re so proud of Nicole.”
“It makes me wonder; what is happening and what is the change?”
Flynn graduated from the Adult Education Program at Quinte Secondary School in June. She is currently a first-year Community and Justice Studies student at Loyalist College.
Flynn says she ultimately wants to continue to be involved and continue to share her experiences.
“I want that respect that I am a human being and I want them to give us the opportunity for people who have differences to be involved in society, not treat them as invisible.”
To learn more on Nicole Flynn, visit her website.