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Efforts to promote Williams Syndrome awareness, acceptance underway in Oshkosh

Posted at 8:53 PM, May 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-14 09:25:49-04

OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — Williams Syndrome may not be familiar to many, but Oshkosh is making an effort to change that this month and it's all thanks to the efforts of one local shop owner, and her granddaughter.

Barb Nelson co-owns Brinkley's Boutique, named after her 12-year-old granddaughter Brinkley Nelson, who has Williams Syndrome.

Brinkley says her condition has made her life difficult, as she says "My anxiety bugs me every morning," but her grandmother recognizes that her condition is part of what makes her who she is.

"Physically she is a joy," Barb said of her granddaughter, "every person who is diagnosed with Williams syndrome has a very enduring loving personality," she continued.

Barb recently petitioned the city of Oshkosh to make May Williams Syndrome awareness month, she says it's all to promote equal treatment for her granddaughter and others like her.

"When you have a special-needs person in your life, you just want them to be treated just like everyone else," she explained.

According to the National Institutes of Health, Williams Syndrome affects less than 200,000 people in the U.S. and can cause intellectual disabilities, anxiety, and heart problems.

In response to Barb's request, the City of Oshkosh issued a proclamation, and every night, the bridges across the Fox River are lit in Blue, Green, and Red, the colors associated with Williams Syndrome.

Barb says the city's efforts to raise awareness will go a long way toward promoting acceptance.

“Because it’s so rare," she said, "the education and awareness that needs to be developed and understood…just treat them the way you and I treat each other.” she continued.

As for Brinkley, she wants everyone to know "I love all people who treat Williams Syndrome people very kind[ly]"