Down Syndrome Awareness month

This month was very busy, let me start out by saying October is Down Syndrome Awareness month.

Let me tell you what it means to me. Families, advocates,and self advocates celebrate the advocacy and the awareness of Down Syndrome. We want everyone to realize our potential, how much we are capable of, that we are valuable, that we do the same things everyone else does, maybe it takes us a little longer, maybe it doesn’t. Some people without Down syndrome never drive, I intend on getting my license, some never go to college, I have 15 hours toward my Associate’s degree. We want people to know that they should never under estimate us. The sky is our limit, Kelly Hampton says something like we just have to push throught the ceiling!

In the beginning of this month Gigi’s Playhouse, where I work, held their 5 K run and walk, it was cool and literately cold with rain. Me and my Mom came out and walked it. It was successful a lot of people attended the event even though it was yucky out. I had a good time, I was a little tired afterwards .

This month I also had a few presentations, I had one at Syracuse University and spoke about not using the R word and how it hurts us even when people are saying it casually and not about someone.
I went to Cato where they had a 5K to benefit Special Olympics and I spoke there to kick it off. They had a shorter fun run that I participated in. I was tired and out of breath after the fact but I did it, maybe next year I will be able to run the Gigi’s 5K. I am trying to lose some weight and that may make it easier. It was exciting, my Mom and I both won a raffle.
I was the keynote speaker at Belhurst Castle for the Fingerlakes Collaborative Self Advocates, I told them my story and hope I helped inspire some of them. Some people from other Self Advocate groups from around the state came to me and told me they really liked my speech and asked me if I would come and present to their groups. Woo hoo!
The other night I presented at the Oswego Phoenix Center to a group of future teachers taking graduate classes, some of them were going to be Art teachers, some Science and Math and some in Special Education. I talked to them about my background in schooling and what has been going on in my life, driving, going to LeMoyne college and taking one course a semester and doing well in it. I was relaxed talking to them and I was feeling happy and content to talk to a group of teachers about what they can accomplish in their future classrooms. Their questions were great. I enjoy speaking to many different audiences and I am always looking forward to the next speech, which is next month.

This month I had a couple of Special Olympics competitions, we had State games in Glens Falls I went for Bocce. We left on Friday the 17th, there were 8 of us athletes in the vans and my parents were the coaches and drivers. The other athletes were all on one bus. Our hotel was far away from the other athletes but that was ok. We got there early and my parents had read they had a pool so we brought our suits and the girls went in the pool and hot tub, that was cool, we never get to do that during Special Olympics. They had a Harvest dance before dinner and opening ceremonies. The Harvest dance was really nice, they had a DJ and great dancers leading us in different dances. It was nice because we didn’t get a dance on Saturday like we sometimes have, they had some games, and then we had opening ceremonies and they were short, that was ok because we had to get up early the next day for competition. Both teams did very well, our team won a gold medal and the other a silver medal, pretty good huh.

Last Saturday I had a bowling competition and bowled pretty well I got over 100 in two of my games and in the third game I bowled just under the 100 mark. I came in 2nd place, I was pretty happy with that. YAY!

That same night when after we came back from Fulton we went to a church event and they had raffles, wine tasting, and casino games to play. My parents and I played blackjack and that was fun. I won some and lost some. But that is how you play the game.

That was all the good news, now here is the bad news, I took my second road test and yet again failed. I missed a stop sign that was a double stop sign. I also hit a curb, both things were at the end of the test. I was that close to passing, ouch. The examiner actually told my instructor that I should come back because I did well, so I do have a third road test in December, early in the month, so wish me luck again and stop back to see how I did. I’m saying the third time is a charm, right!

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Busy September month

I started out a busy September with a couple of Presentations. I had a public speaking engagement early in the month in Oswego to future teachers, a small group but it went well. I have spoke to groups for Professor Dougherty before, it’s really nice that she asks me back. I hope it is helpful to future teachers for their future students that they look at us as having abilities not disabilities.

I also went to the Crouse Nursing program at the Marley building. I presented to future nurses. I talked to them about Down Syndrome and Gigi’s Playhouse and what it means to have the baby and how important it is to give them current information so they don’t tell new parents incorrect facts. I told them it is not a sad diagnosis and I am proof of that! It is nice that they can see how far a sick baby (like I was) can progress, so they can see the whole picture and not make any assumptions. I gave them information on the Playhouse so parents have a place they can make contacts with people going through the same things.

September was a very busy month I had a couple of Special Olympic events going on. September 20th was Bocce competition. Our Bocce club went to the Toccolano Club in Rome New York. Two teams came in second place, my team and another team came in Third place, and one of the teams came in 1st place. We had fun!

A week ago I had a softball competition and played two teams we lost both games but got a 3rd place medal. I had a lot of fun. It is exciting to win, but I was so tired that week, I was so busy.

The day before competition we went to the Turning Stone casino to see Kathleen Madigan, a comic who is very funny. I can’t remember the name of the guy who opened up for her but he was very good also. I like hanging out with my parents and going to cool places like that. It was my first time to a real, comedy club. We had dinner at a place there, The Tin Rooster and we gambled a little afterward, luckily I did come home with some of my money.

The day after competition was the Buddy Walk and I was working with my mom that day and helping her with the raffles and getting my mom set up and running. I was there early, 7:30 am. I helped her out a lot before and at the start of the walk. Gigi’s Playhouse was also there, set up near the raffle tent. I was working a double shift because I worked over there for a little while also. I love the Buddy Walk seeing over 2,000 people there supporting all of us with Down syndrome. It makes me happy, but I was tired, it was a long day.

I have been taking classes at LeMoyne college. I am in a Sociology course and it has been going pretty well, so far a 90 average, cool right. I feel very happy and excited about that and hope I can get an A in the class whoo hoo.

Speaking of Down Syndrome, October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, it is to celebrate the awareness and advocacy of Down Syndrome. I hope everyday that I create awareness of the things all of us with Down Syndrome are capable of. I hope someday we won’t have to have an Awareness and Advocacy month, that it will be a given, but for now I will do everything I can to help get to that point.

October is looking to be a busy month as well. I have about 5 Presentations and I will take my second road test, so stop back and see how I did and wish me luck!

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Future teachers

Today I went to a school in Fulton, NY to do a presentation to future teachers. The class was made up of future teachers that will be student teaching next semester at the elementary school we were in. I tell them how I learned best while in school and to never underestimate my and the abilities of those of us that are differently-abled. I took some questions about education, and my accomplishments. I took a picture with them. I like speaking to groups like that and hope that I make a difference to how they teach or treat someone differently abled. It was a small group of about 20 to 25 people.

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Motorcycle Ride

Today, my friend from church Jack Sheean came to my house and took me for a nice long motorcycle ride we were out for a couple of hours. I had an awesome time with the wind whipping in my face sometimes cold and sometimes warm. I went through Jamesville, Weedsport, Skaneateles, and Auburn. He took me out to lunch, we went to Quaker Steak and Lube, it was very good. I love riding with him, it is always fun. This was my second ride of the year and I love every bit. Thanks very much Jack I had a blast!

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Gigi’s Playhouse

As you know I work at Gigi’s Playhouse, as the Assistant Site Coordinator and I used to share an office with Angela, she is the new Site Director of the Playhouse, so welcome Angela. I enjoy working with her and we have been making some changes. One of the new changes we made together, was me getting my own office, I am right next door to her so we have been collaborating and working well together. I love my new space, it is very comfortable and roomy. I now feel more indepedent and I like it a lot.

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This Sunday I am going to camp for a couple of days I will be doing a bunch of activities like going in the water, in a boat, bible reading and hanging out with friends, I will be doing some creative activities as well. I am looking forward to spending time with my friends and making new friends. I leave Sunday by 4 and come back on Wednesday in the afternoon. I am planning on having a good time with camp fires, singing and everything. I look forward to it every year.

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Brody’s Buddy Ride

This morning, was a very early start, 5 in the morning and had to be to Utica by 7 in the morning.I kicked off the Bike Run, I spoke around 7:15 ish. I encouraged and supported them as they left to ride their bikes for 63 miles. Why 63 miles you ask? People with Down Syndrome have an extra chromosome on the 21st, and a 3rd copy of that so you multiply the two for the miles they had to bike for. I had a good time speaking and it was a blast.

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Another semester at LeMoyne College

Wow does the time go so fast. I am almost getting ready for school again. In two weeks I am going to take a Sociology class. I am looking forward to the upcoming semester. I hope the teacher I am going to have is going to be as supportive as my other teacher from last semester. I hope that I can do as well as I did last time. Wish me luck everyone. It’s pretty cool taking classes at LeMoyne.

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Breanna Stewart

I went to the Special Olympics at CNS this year and Breanna Stewart was the keynote speaker like I have been in the past. I got to meet her and hang out with her. I like meeting new people and she is really cool, just recently we have been emailing each other and catching each other up our summers. She told me that she is going back to school soon and she said to let her know if I want to see her play basketball. She is on the Women’s UCONN Huskies team. How cool is that, I am definitely looking forward to seeing her play sometime.

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The ABLE act continues

This morning Senator Chuck Schumer was speaking about the ABLE act in Syracuse. It was held at ARC of Onondaga at 11 am. I was there as a Down Syndrome self advocate, NDSS ambassador, and also representing Gigi’s Playhouse.I stood up next to the Senator while he spoke about the ABLE act and how it will benefit my friends and I to keep money into our checking accounts, and not have to worry about exceeding certain amounts of money. I took my picture with the Senator and a couple of friends Laurie, Rob Taishoff, and Amy Allyn, took pictures with them as well. I had a interview with the Channel 9 news crew that went well and made the news this evening they actually followed me over to Gigi’s where I was working and filmed me there. I enjoyed seeing Senator Schumer, he feels confident the bill should be pass later this year. I hope so.

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