SPAIN’S first elected parliamentarian with Down’s syndrome has said that ‘society can now see that people with Down’s have a lot to contribute’.
46-year-old Mar Galceran took up her place in the Valencian parliament- Les Corts- after her Partido Popular(PP) party won last May’s regional elections.
Mar from the El Cabanyal district of Valencia has been a political activist since the age of 18.
She spent more than two decades working as a civil servant, with a focus on inclusion for those with intellectual disabilities.
Mar also had four years at Asindown, an organisation that supports children with Down’s syndrome.
She was placed on the list of potential PP deputies for the elections and ahead of the parliament’s first plenary session in September, she was sworn into office.
“It’s unprecedented,” she told the El Pais newspaper.
“Society is starting to see that people with Down’s syndrome have a lot to contribute, but it’s a very long road.”
“True inclusion must start at school at all stages, but if that does not happen, there will be no inclusion and no true integration,” Mar Galceran added.
Her mother, Pilar, said that Mar ‘has had to fight a lot since she was very little, but she has been very brave’.
“She has never given up and this was one of the goals she had,” she commented.
“She is a fighter and pursuer of her dreams based on effort and tenacity.”
Mar Galceran’s groundbreaking achievement is believed to be unprecedented in European politics.
She is understood to be the first person with Down’s syndrome to be elected to a regional or national parliament in Europe, according to Spain’s Down’s syndrome federation.
“We haven’t heard of anyone else,” said Agustin Matia Amor of the ‘Down España’ group.
“It’s a huge step forward and an example of real inclusion.”
As for her still-new parliamentary career and life in general, Mar said: “I want people to see me as a person, not just for my disability.”