(TMU) — For people living with Down syndrome life can often pose unique challenges. Whether it is simple bullying or outright discrimination, people with Down syndrome or other developmental and intellectual disabilities are still struggling in the 21st century for their basic human and civil rights.
34-year-old Eleonore Laloux of Arras, France, has fought for most of her life to be treated as an equal by society. And now, Eleonore is hoping to achieve what many felt was impossible: to be the first woman in France with Down syndrome to be elected to office.
Eleonore is running for a council seat in the local municipal elections with hopes to improve access for disabled people and generally improve living conditions for the people of her northern France hometown. For her, a society’s overall health can be gauged by how well it treats its most vulnerable members.
Speaking from her apartment, the activist told AFP:
“I would like Arras to change, for there to be improvements… mainly with regard to cleanliness and respect, but also accessibility [for disabled people].
I am ready to make this change happen.”
For Eleonore—a fan of film, fashion, and music who lives alone—living with Down syndrome isn’t a major obstacle in her life, and she has made peace with. Instead, Eleonore has devoted her time to her passion: fighting to ensure that disabled people can be included in all aspects of society without facing discrimination and systemic exclusion.
To challenge the social stigmas confronting people with Down syndrome, she founded the collective Friends of Eleonore and has written the book Down syndrome, so what?
Eléonore Laloux, who has Down syndrome is now a candidate in the upcoming municipal elections in France.The 34-year old who has had a 14-year experience as an administrative agent in a private hospital has been integrated into the mayor of Arras’s list for the municipal elections. Among the things she aims to propose at the Arras Town hall if elected are: civility, cleanliness, changing the outlook of the disabled and improving their accessibility to various opportunities.Eléonore is currently the Spokesperson for the group Les Amis d'Eléonore which combats the stigmatization of people living with Down Syndrome.In addition to that, she is a member of the board of the organization Down Up which campaigns for the rights of people living with various physical and mental disabilities and integrating them into society. #s63
Posted by Studio 63 Productions on Monday, February 17, 2020
“If I were to see [French President] Emmanuel Macron, I would tell him: ‘I have something to say to you — I would like us to talk a bit more about people with disabilities and above all about their inclusion.’”
Eleonore decided to run for office through the centrist “Arras pour Vous” (Arras for You) party after Sophie Cluzel, deputy minister in charge of disabilities, appealed to local parties to “make place for handicapped people” on their candidates’ lists for the March 15 local elections.
“I am neither on the right nor the left, I am in the center … This is a project close to my heart.”
She has received support from Mayor Frederic Leturque, a fellow Arras for You party member who has hailed “her courage and her perspective” in fighting for broader appreciation and recognition of disabled people.
“The mayor trusts me because he knows I am a determined young woman who loves life. I know what I want, I have a crazy temperament but I am happy that Frederic accepts me as I am.”
Her 66-year-old father, Emmanuel Laloux, has likewise been supportive. He said:
“We have always wanted for Eleonore, who was born different, to be able to live like anyone else.
When you view a person through the prism of their inabilities… they will behave like a disabled person. But if you view them for their abilities, they can grow.”