31 year old Noelia Garella was rejected for preschool as a child and labeled a “monster” – all because she has Down Syndrome. In a surprise twist decades later she defied societal taboos around disability to achieve her childhood dream of becoming a teacher. Based in her Argentinian hometown of Cordoba, it is thought to be the first appointment of its kind in Latin America.
Noelia fights to overcome prejudice
The long journey to her appointment was not an easy one and was met with considerable public opposition – but none of this cowed Noelia. With the support of her parents she was ultimately successful with her application, despite a lengthy hiring process involving the preschool, its teachers and the city mayor.
Starting out as a reading assistant, Noelia now leads an entire class of preschoolers, and one of them has something very special in common with her teacher – they both have Down Syndrome. She has been in the role since 2012 and spends her days caring for one to three year old children: “What I like most about being a teacher is the beauty of the children’s hearts, their love”.
The power of self-belief and support
Noelia’s success in becoming a teacher despite her cognitive impairment is proof that persistence, self-belief and the right amount of support can overcome prejudice, enabling people with a disability to pursue their dreams. Stories like these inspire because they show how far people with a disability have come: from being dismissed as “monsters” to having their unique contributions recognised.
Noelia Garella is the perfect example of what can happen when we embrace and support people who are differently-abled. Her story is a triumphant one, but she had to overcome a lot of heartbreak and discrimination to make her dream come true. This is what happens when people believe in themselves – and when we believe in them too.