Today’s prompt in the Cornerstone Content Challenge is to share a success story. Which makes me wonder. What is success? One definition describes success as “attaining wealth, prosperity, or fame.” Another dictionary definition describes success as the achievement of goals. As an example, if I were to complete my blogging challenge for this month by writing 31 blog posts, then I would have achieved success, according to the second definition, but not according to the first definition.
When talking about what makes people successful, are there other factors involved in success? How about success as coming from overcoming tremendous barriers that can seem insurmountable? For many people, becoming successful takes more than simply setting goals and achieving them. They overcome obstacles through sheer will power and they create success for themselves.
In fact, entire groups of people tend to get written off by society as being incapable of achieving success. For example, people with intellectual disabilities experience twice the unemployment rate as people without disabilities. Many work in sheltered workshops where they are paid less than minimum wage. And, as dismal as that sounds, that is a step up from the past century, when many children with intellectual disabilities, such as Down Syndrome, were placed in institutions, where they received no education and were often abused and neglected.
So what about them? Is success a realistic goal for people with intellectual disabilities? And can society accept the idea of a successful and well educated person with Down Syndrome?
Well, actually, yes. People with intellectual disabilities, such as Down Syndrome, can go to college, start businesses, and become teachers. Argentinian Noella Garella, age 31, broke barriers by being the first nursery school teacher with Down Syndrome. The obstacles that she faced were enormous. When she was a small girl, her own preschool teachers described her as a “monster.” In Spain, actor Pablo Pineda, age 46, is the first person with Down Syndrome to graduate from college. He has a diploma in teaching and a bachelor’s degree in educational psychology. In addition to his work as an actor, he also speaks publicly about his disability and he is a published author.
AnnaRose Rubright is another person who has not let Down Syndrome become an insurmountable barrier. This 24-year-old was the first person with Down Syndrome to graduate from Rowan University in New Jersey. She earned a bachelor’s degree in radio, television, and film. She loves online media and her goal is to work in radio. College was not easy for her. Her mother explained that something that would take most people twenty minutes to read took AnnaRose an hour to read. She persisted, despite the obstacles caused by her disability and common attitudes about people with intellectual disabilities. She continues to break barriers and defy expectations and she has created success for herself.
Every person that I described above was able to achieve success because they had a great deal of family support and encouragement. They have also shown that no one should be written off as incapable, no matter what disability they might have. These three individuals have shown that persistence, energy, and family support can lead to success.