Living on the Brightside

January 27, 2010
Living on the Brightside

Every month, I meet my best friends for dinner where we get to catch up with each other. Then we go to Circle of Friends, a part of Kennedy Krieger's Brightside mentoring program, where we learn about friendship and how to socialize with other people. I am 25 years old, and I have Down syndrome, which means that I was born with 22 chromosomes instead of 21.

When I was in middle school, my parents enrolled me in the Kennedy Krieger Institute's Circle of Friends program where I learned how to support the people I love and how to be a good friend. And I met my four best friends there-Julie, Melissa, Sharon and Kristen-who also have Down syndrome. We have been friends for 15 years! But my friends are just a part of my busy life.

In 2006, I graduated from Towson University (I think I inspired my brother Matthew; he's graduating from Towson this spring). I was part of their Outreach Program, which taught me even more of the skills I need in my everyday life.

Now I work four days a week. Every Thursday I work at Target as a cart attendant. My co-workers count on me because I have lots of responsibilities, like cleaning and reshelving misplaced merchandise.

I also volunteer for the Baltimore County Public Library system every Tuesday and Friday. I'm responsible for data entry, restocking magazines, and cleaning toys in the children's section. I like that I get to do a variety of things.

On Wednesdays, I work at Levindale Nursing Home, where I am an office volunteer. I label the residents' supplies and do other office jobs like that.

I love to stay busy! I'm even on a Saturday bowling league in Perry Hall. My boyfriend, Andrew, who also has Down syndrome, is on my bowling team. I like meeting other people and making new friends. Everyone is so nice! It's like having a great, big family.

Kennedy Krieger and Circle of Friends are an important reason I have such a full life. I have so many good friends, three fun jobs, and a family who cares for me. Who wouldn't enjoy that? As told by Emily Kahle to Laura Laing