To all teenagers and young people with Down syndrome,
Hello. I am Paul Sawka. I am 26 year old. There are a lot of things that I can do. I can do things like sports and volunteering.I have a girlfriend. I already graduated from my high school and go to Mount Royal University. I am planning to graduate in two years. I also just graduated from Columbia College from the Job Search Program.
I had a great life as a teenager. I did many things when I was a teenager, like golf and play tennis. I had chores around the house. I also worked at Rogers Video Store near my home. The job was to put videos and DVDs away and to vacuum the carpet and clean the store.
Making friend in high school was hard for me because I did not know the people at first. I did make many friends a little later on. I had friends who have Down syndrome, as well without Down syndrome. I was bullied as a teenager but I got help when I needed it from teachers and my parents. I had a lot of help to cope with the bullies. I was bullied by some of the other boys at my school. These boys were unkind to boys like me. They picked on me and my friends. I was downright sad about being bullied and I was very mad and angry with the boys who were bullying me and my friends. To resolve the bullying I talked to my parents and the principal.They helped me deal with the bullies. It is a good idea to ask an adult for help if you are being bullied.
After graduating from high school my main goal was to find a job for me. The jobs that I had in the past were not great but I tried them to see what I liked and what I might want to do. After I tried many jobs and couldn’t find a good fit for me, I decided to go to Mount Royal University to take computer and literacy classes. I still go to Mount Royal to learn new skills that I can apply to my job. I also went to Columbia College and took the Job Search Program there. It was great to be there and to find better suited jobs for me.
I also have a girlfriend. It is great to have her and we plan to get married in two years. Having a girlfriend is great! I get to do lots of fun things with her.
I am planning to move out because I want to be independent from my parents. I am independent in my work and at school. I will be independent when I move out on my own and live with a roommate. I can be independent at my work place. I do my tasks at work; these are things like mailing out packages, photocopying, writing thank you letters, and answering the phone.
My parents are in my life but I do not need as much support from them anymore because I am an adult. My parents help me make decisions and they have helped me with my plans to move out and live independently. They also help me with sports and other activities I am involved in. I think my relationship with my parents will change a little when I move out. This is because I will need to be more independent and I will need to rely on them less. I will maintain a good relationship with my parents when I live on my own.
It is important for me to share my life’s success and growth with teenagers like you because I feel that I have overcome many obstacles in my life. I would like to let teenagers know that there is always support available from different places to help with any problems that may come along. Having Down syndrome has not stopped me from having success and growth. I feel very blessed to have a lot of support and loved ones in my life. I was asked to write this letter so I could give teenagers advice and encouragement, and hopefully inspire them. I would like to let teenagers know that no matter what the disability if you put your mind and effort into what you want you can accomplish anything. Here is some advice that I can give to teenagers with Down syndrome:
- If you are being bullied then go tell an adult to come to help.
- If you want to go on a date with someone then ask someone you like to do something with you. You can go do something you both like and see if you like each other.
- To make friends it helps to meet one friend and then you can make more friends together. You can also be friends with the other friends of your friends that you do not know.
- If you want people to treat you better or if you want more respect it is important to tell this person your needs and have a conversation with them so they understand your point of view.
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