I have always believed that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world. Some may say I am an optimist or even an idealist. But I can guarantee that if you took a few seconds to learn about LiveUp or volunteered for a weekend with the program, you would be a believer as well.
I first volunteered with LiveUp last Memorial Day and had an incredible time. I was paired up with a rockstar participant and we had such a fun weekend – doing everything from cooking hummus, working on a volunteer project to cheering at an Oriole’s game. We laughed on bus rides, sang too loud in our room and shared some of our favorite memories. Most importantly, we learned a whole lot while also having a great time.
LiveUp is an organization that really impacts everyone involved. As a volunteer, I learned so much about the Down syndrome community and was inspired in so many ways. And the participants, besides having a blast the entire weekend, walk away with new friends and new experiences they can take back home with them. Throughout the weekend a community was formed. One in which everyone was accepted and we each looked out for the well being of one another. We all ate healthy meals together, worked out in the morning together and danced the night away together. Being part of a community where there is no distinction between those who have Down syndrome and those who don’t is truly magical and is something I hope for in all communities.
Although I didn’t want the weekend to come to an end and I wish I could have stayed in that community forever, the end of the program also happened to be my favorite part. Participants had the option of speaking at closing ceremonies in front of parents and friends. Not only did every participant do an amazing job speaking in front of a large audience, they each expressed how much they loved every aspect of LiveUp. I felt so lucky to be part a community that made the participants feel special each and every moment during the program, something that they should feel each and every day. I also felt so lucky to have met each participant and to have learned from them in so many ways.
Everyone came out of the program with something gained. Whether it was a new friend or a better understanding of what adding color to your plate at a meal meant – we all learned something. Everyone was impacted. A difference was made. Since that Memorial Day, LiveUp has expanded to engage even more individuals in and invested in the Down syndrome community. Through LiveUp, a small group of individuals is truly making the world a better place. I am so happy to be a part of it and excited to see what bright things the future brings. So I hope you take a few seconds out of your day to learn about all the great things LiveUp is doing, support the organization and consider joining us for an awesome weekend! Together, we can truly make a difference.