Deep breath and exhale. “I can!” Stand tall. “I can!”
Eye contact. “I can!” Firm handshake. “I can” Smile. “I can!”
It’s said communication is the key to personal and career success. But a combination of low expectations and medical barriers for individuals with Down syndrome often leads to an unhealthy mantra: “I can’t!”
I’m hoping to help change that with a small group of adult self-advocates in my community.
With inspiration from a similar program in Maryland, I’ve started a communication workshop to give 8 self-advocates new communications skills they can use at work and life in general.
Our mantra is “I can!”
Our local community theatre’s Theater Educator, Stephanie Radford (heavy on the “RAD”), is leading the group in
communication skills like eye contact, improv, body language, and speech writing and presenting. With a little coaching the self-advocates seemed at ease with communicating their likes and dislikes at our very first workshop.
Our 15th Annual Buddy Walk is just a few months away and I’m using the event to highlight our adult self-advocates and their new and improved communication skills.
We raise a lot of money in the name of Down syndrome for the event, but many people don’t know where that money goes.
Who better to explain how the money is used than the people who benefit the most from the donations: our self-advocates.
I plan to have our self-advocates introduce some of our VIP guests at the Buddy Walk, like Ohio state Representative Niraj Antani. They’ll also man our first annual advocacy table.
Self-advocates will share our mantra “I can,” with attendees by talking to them about their job success and MVDSA programs that they benefit from.
Low tone, childhood apraxia, hearing loss are just some of the more common problems that impede speech and language development in our friends with Down syndrome.
Early intervention, speech therapy, and inclusive education have helped improve communication outcomes for individuals with Down syndrome.
Still, many adults with Down syndrome are finding barriers to employment in part because of weak communication skills.
Grassroots activities like our local communication workshop is just one way you can help improve the odds of employment success for individuals with Down syndrome.
I can’t wait to see how they progress over time, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted! Because “I can!”
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below for more information on how to start your own communications workshop. Also, check out Art Stream.
And if you’re in town, please come out and support the Miami Valley Down Syndrome Association at our 15th Annual Buddy Walk!