There’s someone who I admire very much. Someone who was born into a troubled life, but still has more hope than anyone I’ve ever known. He’s a young boy, who has won medals in Judo, swimming, and gymnastics, who is likeable from the first moment you meet him, and who has a competitive nature that shines in everything he does, despite having to deal with Down’s Syndrome. This boy’s name is Laurentiu.
I met him in October at Asociatia Down, a center which hosts activities for children like Laurentiu. The talent I could see in his choreography is what made me personally pay attention to him while he was dancing. In fact, because Laurentiu loves dancing so much, he is one of the main performers in the center’s upcoming production of “Beauty and the Beast.”
The importance of this dance is not just for the audience, but for the students involved–the impact that it has on Laurentiu. He dances with a beautiful girl, and at the end, he takes off his mask, which represents The Beast becoming a prince. When I asked why he liked this dance so much, his father responded on his behalf.
“Every single time I say to myself, I can and will be beautiful one day. When I take off my mask, I feel like I become beautiful, just like The Beast becomes at the end of the story.” He told us that this dance makes Laurentiu feel good – ‘normal’, for a few seconds.
For my Personal Project, I decided to teach piano to children with Down’s Syndrome and organize a concert with them. Part of the process (and my favorite) was meeting with Laurentiu’s lovely friends. I have spent a lot of time with them, and have realized that even though they have Down’s Syndrome, they are not ‘different’. In fact, I feel like they are more thoughtful and sensitive than most people. They show their feelings by touching, hugging, and most of the time, smiling. But what impressed me most about them is their desire to never give up. Even if they cannot do something properly, they keep on trying.
On February 2nd, I was able to invite this wonderful group of people to AISB, to perform their concert in front of the middle schoolers. “Watching the students from the Down Association of Bucharest perform for our secondary students was the highlight of the year,” Jonathan Cain, head of high-school, proudly states. “It shows that with practice and patience everyone can learn and everyone can contribute to society.”
It was great to share my passion with the community and to get such a positive response. All of the kids seemed really happy as well. I hope that, with my personal project, I was able to show people just how talented they can be.
*Additional reporting and editing by Toyosi.