It's hard to put into words what I witnessed yesterday.
For the past few months, Lilly's been going to hip hop dance class each Friday, the same dance school where her 9 and 12 year old cousins take dance classes. The school is so great. It both encourages kids to do their best, but in a noncompetitive way. The teachers and staff are so positive and had total faith in Lilly's ability, and as such, she met their high standards and succeeded.
This is what we've been trying to say all along. It's not about Down syndrome, it's not about "can she" or "can't she." It's about believing in all childrens' abilities. All the children in the show yesterday did fantastic.
I can't tell you how many times, when a professional encounters my child with a feeling of trepidation or wondering if she can actually do something, Lilly totally senses that and reduces her own standards, sometimes missing the mark.
And then there are those people out there who are good at what they do, those school teachers and therapists and dance teachers and swim instructors, who hold the bar high, and believe in my girl - not despite Down syndrome, but because she is a little girl in their class like any other child, who can do whatever task they put before her.
Lilly thrives on this, and it is my hope that we continue to find people in Lilly's life who maintain this attitude. Because when Lilly knows she can be successful, she blows us away.
This isn't about inclusion, but it is a point for it: Lilly being in a regular dance class without restrictions and her learning the routine perfectly along with the other girls. Getting on a stage in front of about a thousand people and showing her natural talent. I am impressed by her, and so happy that she had such a supportive staff to lead her to this moment.
Lilly wasn't amazing because she has DS or despite her having DS. She was amazing as a little Gummy Bear dancing her cute little orange tail off with her friends. She was applauded by the crowd because her group did a great job. And to witness this was incredible - but the feeling of pride she had in the moment was beyond words. Lilly, may you always know that you can do anything you set your mind to. And may you be surrounded by people who believe in you as much as I do.
A special thanks to her teacher Hanne who went above and beyond - not just with Lilly's class but with the whole dance school who performed yesterday. I don't know how they got 550 kids to perform in 2 sold out shows in unique costumes with great choreography routines without any kind of issues. The audience was blown away by the whole production. It was amazing, and thank you so much.