Down Syndrome Awareness Month Entry, submit your story here.
My daughter, Bethany Hagen, is an 18-year-old girl whose passion has always been singing and performing. She also loves to learn and use sign language (ASL). Despite some hurdles we have had to jump through and advocating we have had to do educating others about the abilities of people with Down Syndrome (many people are unaware of the abilities our kiddos have and the benefits of inclusivity), Bethany has persisted and has performed for years in Community Theater productions (with her typical peers) in shows such as Shrek the Musical, Legal Blonde, Jr., Once on this Island, Mary Poppins, Annie, Peter Pan, and more. Last year she performed in her school musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Bethany also performs in community theater talent productions and recitals. She uses ASL to sign her songs while she sings. Recently, she auditioned for and made the Fusion Show Choir through the Music Academy of WNY, where she will be performing while singing and dancing! Bethany also uses her ASL talents to volunteer at GiGi’s in a music class, signing with ASL and singing while the instructor teaches the class! Additionally, she has volunteered at two separate daycare facilities, teaching small children how to sign words during story time!!! I have always set the bar high for Bethany and encouraged her to try anything that she wants to! She has always met the bar and, at times, blew the roof off of it! I want the world to know that our kids have lots of different abilities and talents! It may take a little longer to learn something, it may take some more practice to hone a skill, but our kiddos are capable of anything! Remember, inclusion not only benefits our kiddos so that they can make friends and feel part of a group and community, but it teaches others tolerance, acceptance, patience, kindness, and that our kids are just like all other kids – they want to pursue their interests, have fun, and make friends!
– Marcy Hagen
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