A few weeks ago I had a phone call from a mom of a junior high student with Down syndrome. They have lived in Roswell for 2 years and did not know we existed but was told about the DSF by her daughter, Samantha’s, teacher who attended our Educational Workshop.
Because of the workshop, she was determined to find ways to help Samantha become more included at school. This led to approaching the cheer coach to see if Samantha might have an opportunity to do what she loves and participate in cheerleading. The coach was very excited to help and was thrilled to have Samantha participate. She tried out by showing the coach a cheer she had prepared.
Samantha was now in need of sponsorships to help pay for her uniforms and other cheerleading needs. When her mom came to me, I was first thrilled to meet this new self-advocate, second, really excited that we had made such an impact on her teacher, and finally, overjoyed that they asked us to help make her dream of cheerleading come true. This is really what we are all about; helping those with Down syndrome and their families.
We have funds set aside to help in cases just like this and we even had board members who matched the foundation’s sponsorship to make sure Samantha met her sponsorship needs to be a Mesa Middle School cheerleader. Eager to help Samantha be the best cheerleader she could, the Mesa cheer coach contacted me and I was able to answer some of her questions about how to help Samantha be successful. She didn’t want her just sitting on the sidelines, but she wants her to have the chance to truly participate. She also wanted to help her other cheerleaders know how to relate to and develop friendships with Samantha.
The girls on the squad love Samantha and treat her as they would any other teammate. The beauty of this story is watching the mission of the DSF come full circle; providing education and resources for teachers causes them to go beyond their limits to love their kids, which leads to families who would otherwise feel distant, become an integral part of a community.
We continue to pursue community inclusion and see it at work in music classes, swimming lessons, the addition of more teen and adult self-advocates added to our membership, and lives being changed one step at a time. To look back and think that it wasn’t that long ago our community didn’t have an organization set up to support people with Down syndrome and now we have 124 self-advocates in our membership. More specifically, we are helping them achieve their dreams! Your support matters more than you know. Samantha and her mother would agree. Thank you for making another dream come true!