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Great Achievers

My Greatest Achievement--by Emily DeFrancesca

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 @ 4:37 PM

I am very proud of the volunteer work that I do. It is my greatest achievement. I have been going to schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh with the "Opening Doors" Program since I was in second grade. This is an assembly that helps students be aware of people with disabilities. It helps them get to know us better. There is a person who is blind at the assembly with her dog and a person who is deaf and two sisters that are in wheel chairs. I talk about having mental retardation and Down Syndrome. At first my Mom talked about Down Syndrome and I showed the children my school work and trophies that I won at sports. Sometimes I would wear my girl scout uniform.
When I was in eighth grade I wore my cheerleading uniform. That was cool. As I got older, I started to talk about having Down syndrome and I answered questions that the students had about me. They were afraid to ask me at first but then they got used to it. Once a student
asked me if I was sad to have Down Syndrome. I said no it was fine. The students were surprised to know that I liked the same music as they did and that I like to go to the mall with my friends and to the movies.
I like to talk to the students so they will understand that people with Down Syndrome are more like them and not so different. Last year I wrote a book for younger children about my life. I think it will show them in pictures that I have a good life and enjoy many of the same things as they do. I have met many wonderful people doing volunteer work.
In November I was honored by Bishop Wuerl at The Medallion Ball in Pittsburgh. I received the Joan of Arc Medallion for doing over 100 hours of volunteer work in high school. I am very proud of this.

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