My name is John.  They call me JC for short.  I’m seven years old and really looking forward to turning eight.  I even pretend that I’m already eight sometimes.  It cracks me up when people fall for it.  Last year was a really busy year for me.  I played lots of baseball and soccer and joined a karate studio – Hi Ya!.    I also tried rock climbing.  It was great fun on the way up but no one told me I had to let go at the top.  I learned if you scream a lot someone will come up and get you.  I also really like swimming.  This year I learned to use my big arms.  I didn’t like ice skating or skiing so much, but after a few tries I was finally able to make it around the rink and down the slope.  Those winter sports sure get my heart racing.  

And boy, do I like school!  I have about 18 kids in my class, which means I have 18 really good friends.  I know them all by name and I know what they each like to do.  On occasion, I give them all star wars names. They love it and so do I.  I like school so much that learning to read and write wasn’t that bad, though I’m not as quick at it as some of the kids in my class.  They all help me when they can and I help them when I can too.  I ride the bus to school on most days.  I like riding the bus and after an especially long day, I like taking a snooze on the way home.

I have a brother who is one year younger than me that does all this stuff too.  He doesn’t like the team sports as much as I do but he’s really good at karate, rock climbing, and swimming.  I wish he liked baseball and soccer more so that I could beat him real good.  My Mom and Dad are great.  They enable us to do all this fun stuff and spend lots of time playing with us and feed us really good food.  I love going to restaurants.  I make sure that I’m on my best behavior because it’s so fun for me that I want them to bring me back.  I eat pretty much everything and if I don’t eat it, I’ve discovered a bit of ketchup will do the trick.  I love ketchup.   My grandparents all live pretty close by too so I get to see them lots and they help out my Mom and Dad too.  It’s great having a close family.

When I grow up, I want to be a superhero.  I really think that being like Spiderman or Batman or Captain America or the Power Rangers would be a good thing to be, always helping people, always in the middle of the action, putting the bad guys away.  I watch a lot of these TV shows and movies so that I’ll be prepared when the time is right.  I haven’t picked out my super hero name yet though or costume.  If the superhero thing doesn’t work out, I guess I’ll just do what everyone else does and get a day job – though I’m way too young to think about that yet.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I was born with an extra chromosome.  I have Down syndrome.  So, in order to reach my potential, it’s imperative that I have access to all the services that I’ve been lucky enough to receive so far.  I thank everyone who advocates on my behalf ensuring that these services are available.  I was part of the Babies Can’t Wait program and then lucky enough to go to Kindergarten at 3 years old.  I have had access to speech, physical and occupational therapists since I was six weeks old.  My therapists are like part of my extended family.  

I am a bit concerned that moving forward I won’t have access to some of the things that I may need like cognitive and music therapy in the short term and funds to support independent living and job exploration as I grow older.   I try not to worry about it too much in hopes that our government and people like you will continue to allow for the supports that I need to make a positive contribution to society.  

The one thing that I want everyone to know about Down syndrome is that “I don’t feel different.  I’m a happy kid doing what happy kids do.  I just need a bit more support to help me develop.”