Down’s Syndrome Cannot Silence My Voice
I was born in 1997 with Down’s Syndrome. All the time I was growing up, my mom found great places for me to go, do, and learn things.
But when I became a teenager, everything seemed to change. High school is an awkward time for everyone, but I really had a hard time fitting in. I was bullied because I was different, so I just tried to stay out of sight. And, after school, there were just no good places for teens with disabilities. I felt all alone.
I knew my mom worried about me. She didn’t know if I could ever be on my own. I felt like I could end up being a burden to my family.
No teenager in Loudoun should have to face a lifetime of isolation.
The Next Chapter
Things started to change for me in 2011 when I found a nonprofit really close to our home. I attended summer camp there, expecting nothing at all, really. Instead, I discovered music and theater, and I fell in love. Three years later, I won the role of Ariel in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” I memorized all my lines, including all the songs, and I gave the performance of a lifetime.
I found myself on that stage. And, I found that I actually like myself. Best of all, I found I have a voice. I can speak up for what’s right—for me and for others. So now I mentor others who come to the group looking for a place to belong. I love being part of a community that accepts everyone and helps them feel accepted and loved.
I also don’t have to hide anymore. I traveled to England all by myself last year. And, this past fall, I started college, where I will be studying music and theater.
My mom doesn’t worry about my future anymore. She now knows that I have choices—that I can be independent—that I will follow my own path. I can graduate from college, get married, have a family, and be a productive member of society. She says that makes her feel “at peace.”
I am so happy I found this group and they helped me to find my calling. I want to help others find their own way. Won’t you join us and help End the Need in Loudoun?
As part of the Community Foundation’s Faces of Loudoun campaign, Loudoun Now is publishing monthly articles highlighting men, women and children who have found a helping hand when they needed it most. Learn more or donate to help End the Need at FacesofLoudoun.org.