Meet Isabella, our Inspiring Little Citizen from North Olmsted, Ohio. Isabella was born with her heart on her sleeve, a compassionate young lady who believes passionately about the principles of kindness and inclusion. She never wants anyone to feel left out. So, when she became a big sister to Olivia who has Down syndrome, she began advocating for kids everywhere who are rocking that extra chromosome.
Now, every year, on World Down Syndrome Day, she gives presentations to her classmates on what it means to live with Down syndrome and the importance of treating children with special needs as friends and equals, and not as foreigners.
Read on to learn more about Isabella and how she’s setting out to make a difference.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I am 11 years old and getting ready to start 6th grade. I love to volunteer and help out in my community. My passion is acting, and I love musical theater. In fact, when I grow up, I want to be an actress and a teacher! I’ll be acting in my 5th summer musical this year.
This past school year I was also elected to student council, and really liked having the opportunity to make a difference in my school. I helped make our school a bully-free zone, taught my classmates about Down syndrome and spread a message about the importance of celebrating our differences, while remembering, too, that we all have so much in common.
How did you get involved in helping others?
My mom says I started helping others when I was in preschool and started volunteering to help my friends in school that were different than me. At the time, I didn’t know that’s what I was doing, but I do remember being in Kindergarten and volunteering at work with my Mom. There I helped sort food in a food pantry, serve meals to older adults and assist with special events. So far, I have volunteered over 100 hours at the Senior Center, and I’m working on my next 100 hours.
A big moment for me was when my baby sister was born with Down syndrome. I wanted to make sure that people would get to know her for who she was, and not decide before they knew her what she could or couldn’t do. I quickly discovered that people with Down syndrome really are more like me than I had thought, and it was important to me to spread the word. When my family started going to Gigi’s Playhouse, a center in Cleveland that offers free therapeutic and educational programming to kids with Down syndrome and their families, I fell in love. I found out that even though I was a kid, I could help spread the message and empower others to celebrate how amazing people with Down syndrome are.
I love going to Gigi’s and playing with my sister and all of her buddies. I have to wait until I’m older to become an official volunteer there, but Lizz, the Site Coordinator, made me an unofficial volunteer! Since then, I have worked hard to educate and inspire my classmates to be accepting of people with Down syndrome, giving presentations on what it is, what it means and how they can be part of changing how we treat others who are different.
How does helping others make you feel?
I am most happy when I am helping others. I know that by helping others I am making a difference in their lives, the lives of the community and in my own life. Helping others just makes me feel warm and joyful!
What do you hope the donation from Tea will accomplish?
I hope that the donation from Tea can be used to help add more programs and resources at Gigi’s so that it grows and can help more and more people and families. I hope that the donation might also help to start a siblings club so that other kids like me can come together to help share what we already know—that people with Down syndrome are awesome!
What do you want to do next? Do you have any big plans or ideas to make your community a better place?
I would really like to help start a class for kids in school to learn about diversity and acceptance. I would like to help Gigi’s spread their message of “Generation G” to every school. I also want to start a blog, or maybe an Instagram page, that’s all about being a sibling to a child with special needs. It would be cool to create something on social media that helps create awareness and celebrates how truly lucky we siblings are!
Head to TeaCollection.com and shop through August 5th to help support Isabella in her efforts to raise money for more specialized programming and resources for the Down syndrome community at Gigi’s Playhouse!