March 21, was Down Syndrome International’s World Down Syndrome Day. Their goal is to “create a single global voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with Down syndrome.”
“Glee” star Lauren Potter opened up on Huffington Post on Wednesday about her own experiences, and how Down Syndrome has not stopped her from achieving what she dreamed. The actress says people told her she could never make it to the stage, but she paid attention to the people who said she could. Potter wrote, “I joined a dance class with ‘typical kids’ just before my third birthday and I had my first recital when I was four years-old. And when I heard people laughing and clapping I knew this was good for me! When the whole dance class came back to the stage and sat down, I was the only one to stand up and wave and blow kisses to the crowd. That’s when I got my first standing ovation! I LOVED it!”
At 16, Potter starred in her first movie, “Mr. Blue Sky”, and says she loved working with fellow actors and being in front of the cameras. Soon after, came a call from Glee‘s casting director, looking for a girl with Down Syndrome to play a cheerleader on the show. Potter writes, “I had always wanted to be a cheerleader, and even though I tried out for the squad in high school and didn’t make the cut, I knew I wanted this job. I knew I had to work really hard to do a great job…It’s been three seasons since my dream became a reality and I still love being on the show with the other cast members and the great crew, and I still love acting! But like the dreams that led up to realizing this big one, I keep finding new ones.”
She now works to help others with Down Syndrome, and victims of bullying. Potter writes, “I have been all around the country speaking out for the anti-bullying campaign that was started with AbilityPath.Org. And I am now working with ‘Defeat the Label’ to continue the fight against bullying. This lets other people hear how bullying hurts and kills dreams. I’ve spoken in front of members of the U.S. Congress about a new dream of living in communities where everybody is welcome and everyone can live and go to school and work without facing the fear of bullies.” Potter also mentions her campaign with fellow “Glee” star Jane Lynch, and their PSA to stop the use of “the R word.”
Potter also works with the Special Olympics and ARC, and is on the International Board of Best Buddies. She has even been appointed to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities by President Obama. “I am so excited that the President trusts me to advise him on things that are important to people with disabilities,” she writes.