World Down Syndrome Awareness day influences Hannah Humes to speak out

Ria Parikh | Staff Writer

One student showed her class that her disability should not impact the way they treat her.

On March 14, freshman Hannah Humes spoke to the students of Teacher’s Academy (TA) in recognition of World Down Syndrome Awareness Day, which was on March 21. Humes, who has Down Syndrome, talked to the students about her goals, interests and what helps her learn best. The presentation was in the format of a slide show which was followed by a video.

Senior Dillon Davis said he enjoyed having Humes come into the classroom, and he liked that they got to talk to her far beyond what was originally planned.

“She told us about vacations she’s been on like Rome, and she told us that she likes to dance,” Davis said. “We got her favorite song on YouTube and played it, and she was dancing for everyone. Originally she came to just present to us, but after that, we talked and had a good time.”

Humes said her favorite part was talking to the students about her goals for the future.

“(I liked talking about) my goals,” Humes said. “(Some of them were) to go to college, travel, and work at the Disney Store.”

TA instructor Marcie Blamer said she enjoyed having her students talk to Humes because they got to learn more about students with Down Syndrome and other disabilities.

“The kids loved her,” Blamer said. “I wanted her to come in because as future teachers, we’re going to have kids with all different abilities in our classes, and a lot of kids with Down Syndrome are integrated — so we teach them in our regular classes. I wanted her to come in because I thought it would be great for the kids to talk to her and to interact with her and see that she is totally this great kid.”

As part of her presentation, Humes showed a video called “Don’t Limit Me,” in which a student with Down Syndrome gave a speech to teachers about how she wanted to be taught. Blamer said something that stuck with her was that the student in the video asked to be treated normally,  just like any other student.

“One thing she said that really resonated was when the girl said, ‘Don’t make me your class mascot,’” Blamer said. “(She said things like) ‘Don’t baby me and make me an object, but treat me like I’m one of you.’”

Davis said he learned from Humes that students with Down Syndrome want to be treated like any other student.

“I feel like a lot of people think that since they are going to have harder times with certain things, you can’t treat them like other students — you have to make everything different for them, and they can’t be involved like other students can,” Davis said. “For teachers, they might have to change how lessons go a little bit, but they still are just like other students.”

Humes said she enjoyed her experience with TA.

“It was so fun,” Humes said. “The people were great.”

Paraprofessional Kimberley Cook has been working with Humes since her seventh grade year and said one goal of the presentation was to show other students that people who are different from them are actually more similar than one would think.

“People tend to look at others that are different from them, and they sometimes want to shy away or ignore,” Cook said. “Just the idea of making others aware of her and that she’s a fun girl (is important). You don’t have to be afraid of her; she wants to be included in everything.”