Laura is a future rap star, community activist, and the voice of Down Syndrome Awareness for Including You.
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. As a way to commemorate the month and share the point of view of someone who has Down Syndrome, I interviewed my friend Laura, a junior in high school in New York City. Of course, Laura is so much more than a person with Down Syndrome. She is super funny, multi-talented, a compassionate friend and hopes to make the world a better place through community service. In this interview, Laura inspires us, makes us laugh, and most importantly, she helps us to realize why it is so important to be inclusive--and to understand why our words and actions matter.
Daisy: Hi Laura! Thanks for taking the time to speak to me. I wanted to do this interview because I think you’re great and want everyone to get to know a little bit about you. So, as a first question, what clubs do you like in school?
Laura: Yearbook and fashion clubs, which are really really fun!
D: So who are your favorite social media stars?
L: That’s hard. I really really enjoy Tori Kelly. She’s really pretty and she’s really nice to her fans.
D: She sounds great. So what are your hobbies?
L: Well, I like to rap. I’ve been writing songs since I was like 9 or 10. I like anything that has to do with beauty or fashion cause girl, you know me I’m a fashion plate!
D: Can you rap for us?
D: That was really good.
L: Thank you.
D: What rap stars are you inspired by?
L: Well, Nicki Minaj. She’s really strong and her dad used to be addicted to drugs and
abandoned her family, and since then she’s been strong about life and she pushed through it. I also like Jay Z, Eminem, Meek Mill and LL Cool J. That’s my nickname, by the way. Outside of rap, I like Alicia Keys, Beyonce, and Ariana Grande. It’s been a long ride, but I know that someday I’m going to find a way to get noticed.
D: Oh, you want to be a famous rapper?
L: Oh, desperately. If I could, I would take care of my family, I’d give them money for the bills, for my brother’s school, I would give my babysitter some money as well. It’s just gonna be amazing. I can’t wait!
D: That’s very generous of you. It’s obvious you’ve got the potential for it! Also, you’re a Girl Scout, right? How do you like it?
L: I couldn’t be happier. I started it when I was little, when I was a Brownie. I stopped for a while, and then, in 2020 I was like oh my gosh, look what’s happening, and then my mom signed me up, and now I’m a Juliette and I couldn’t be happier.
D: That’s great! Girl Scouts are really fun! What’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie?
L: Oh, girl. Samoas all the way! One day when I was younger I went to school with a whole pack of Samoas, and I was eating them like they were chips. I was shoving them in my mouth, one after another!
D: Yes, Samoas are very good! Thin mints too! So, I saw on your Instagram that you do yoga, and you’re really good at it. How long have you been doing it?
L: You know, I started when I was very young, and I was just bending and twisting my body. I used to be a gymnast, and I know how to bend my body front, back. It’s like I’m a pretzel!
D: Cool. So what’s your favorite pose?
L: It’s kind of a hard pose, it’s called the Scorpion.
D: Let me look that up. Oh, I’ve done that! You know the names of poses way better than me.
D: During the lockdown, what did you think about remote learning?
L: It was relaxing, learning from home, but you’re also missing your friends and your teachers. I missed my school’s prom that year. I missed the assemblies, but it was still okay.
D: I’m glad you were able to have such a good experience with remote learning. Not everyone did. Are you in school in person full-time now?
L: From Monday through Thursday is in person, but we only have one day at home, and that is every single Friday, and I’m like, “Joy to the World, the Lord has come!”
D: How do you like school this year?
L: School is going really well. I made a new friend, his name is Jayden, He’s really sweet and really funny and I really appreciate him.
D: That’s really nice. So, since this blog post is celebrating Down Syndrome Awareness, can you tell us what Down Syndrome Awareness means to you?
L: Good question. Let me answer it for you.
To me, awareness is like a puzzle. You have to fit the pieces in. And when you do, it’s like each person supports another person and it’s kind of a chain reaction. If one person helps, then another person helps. And each person would help out.
And it’s amazing how much I have succeeded and everyone else around me has succeeded. It’s been a crazy ride but I can’t wait to open the door and see what’s hiding behind it.
D: So, what do you think are common misunderstandings about Down Syndrome? L: Well, some people don’t know that we’re people. They think that we’re objects. They think they can do whatever they want. Like, the “R” word? They think it’s a regular word they can use, but it’s really not. It’s insulting to me and people like me, and we don’t like it and I really wish people would stop using that word. It really impacts our lives and the way we think, talk and act. Even though we may not be like them, it doesn’t mean that they have the right to hurt our feelings and slander us as though we’re objects lying on the street.
L: Well, some people don’t know that we’re people. They think that we’re objects. They think they can do whatever they want. Like, the “R” word? They think it’s a regular word they can use, but it’s really not. It’s insulting to me and people like me, and we don’t like it and I really wish people would stop using that word. It really impacts our lives and the way we think, talk and act. Even though we may not be like them, it doesn’t mean that they have the right to hurt our feelings and slander us as though we’re objects lying on the street.
D: I don’t like the “R” word, I hate the “R” word!
L: Girl, you are just like me!! I think it should be banned by all communities and all social media.
D: Yeah, totally. So, what is the best thing about living with Down Syndrome?
L: That’s a really hard question. I would say that:
The best thing about living with Down Syndrome is the ability to make new friends every day and to kind of expand my world. I never really knew what I was made of, but now I know that I’m strong, I am enough...
...and Including You is one of the best things I’ve ever learned about.
D: You are one of the best people we’ve ever met! What would you like for people to know about you?
L: I’m seventeen, and I am a junior in high school, I will be looking at music schools, hopefully they will accept me. I’m going to go to college soon. When I was younger, I always wanted to be the youngest person to go to college. When I was like 5 I wanted to go to college….But I know it’s going to be hard because I’ve never been away from home for a long time, but I have to go to camp for a long period of time, so I can do it. I’ve always loved the music industry, and if I could be in the music industry, I would soar to new heights!
D: So after you graduate from college, what is your dream job?
L: I don’t really have a dream job. I do want to be a Young MC sometime in my life, but I mostly want to do volunteer work.
D: What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
my dream is for the world to see not only that I am a person, but also, I am someone who you have to treasure, worship, love and treat kindly. I don’t want to be a person who is hurt all the time. It makes me feel so pained just to see people being hurt just by being them.
It’s hard for me to see them being hurt by other people as opposed to being loved and treasured. We are treasured by God. God has always been there for us, and I am not going to squander any opportunities.
D: You’re a very compassionate person.
L: So are you! I’ve been blessed from the clouds above to have a friend like Daisy Hampton.
D: I am so lucky to have you as a friend, Laura. Thank you!
To learn more about Down Syndrome, check out National Down Syndrome Society and this article about the history of Down Syndrome Awareness Month. And check out Including You’s YouTube Page for more raps from Laura!