Bloggers from the Tots100 community are making a difference. They are writing posts which are inspiring others and bringing about change every day. Today, we’re bringing back our regular Blogger of the Month feature, and we’re kicking the series off by highlighting the achievements of someone who has proved just how powerful blogs can be.
Our blogger of the month for January is Hayley Goleniowska from Downs Side Up. Hayley describes her blog as her ‘life’s work’ – she used to be a language teacher and voice-over artist. Seven years ago, everything changed when her second child, Natty, was born with Down’s syndrome. The family learnt about the condition very quickly – and Hayley has written incredibly openly about the tumultuous emotions she felt when their life changed.
Today, Hayley says she is ‘as much of an expert as any parent can hope to be’. She doesn’t want other parents to feel the overwhelming despair she experienced following Natty’s birth and her mission is to show them that Down’s syndrome is wonderful and will enrich lives.
Hayley is a multi-award winning blogger and is regularly asked to contribute to publications. She has started the year on a high and been named in the Health Service Journal’s list of 25 HSJ Rising Stars. This is a kind of medical New Year Honours list, full of doctors and – as Hayley describes them – ‘pioneers and cutting edge thinkers’. She says she is humbled to have been included.
This year, Hayley says she would like to finish and publish a couple of writing projects which she feels are a good way to reach more families. She is aiming to work on funding and distributing copies of her family’s book on Down’s syndrome, I Love You Natty, to neonatal units and health visitors around the UK.
She has other plans too for 2015:
“I’d like to continue working with medical professionals to improve impartial support for parents making agonising decisions at point of diagnosis, and to help ensure a high standard of healthcare for those with a learning disability throughout their lives.
I’m also keen to work more closely with other bloggers and writers, be they parents or young people with Down’s syndrome. Our voices are so much stronger together, and we can share the workload.”
She also has plans for her blog, which she intends to streamline and make easier to navigate.
We asked Hayley to share her top three blogging tips with us – this is what she said:
- Stay steadfast in your original motivations for starting your blog and maintain your focus. It will be organic, it will grow and go where it needs to go, you will change, your writing will change, your family will change. That’s healthy, but it’s easy to get sidetracked and become motivated by stats or sponsorship or reviews or competitiveness and this will take your eye off the ball and the bigger picture. Remember we are part of a collaborative group as bloggers, so find those who are like-minded and support each other.
- Be honest, truthful and yourself. Your voice is unique, so find it, hone it and let it be heard.
- However infrequently you post, act professionally. Always consider those who will read your words, and the impact they might have on them. Respect the privacy of others, especially in photos. And consider your children’s feelings ten years from now when they read what you have written. I like to re-read a post the next day before publishing, to see if my mood and perspective has changed, to check that I have been fair and not omitted anything.