In Collaboration with Down Syndrome `Ohana of Hawai`i
ProjectFocus Hawai`i presents
“Shine: Inspiring Joy Through Their Eyes”
“Becky!” “Becky!” “Becky!” Our 2011 participants repeatedly chanted this name when asked who they would most like to attend their opening night exhibit reception. We tell our participants to dream big. Usually, they want to meet the Governor, the Mayor or other local celebrities. But, “Becky?” We soon learned that “Becky” was, in fact, Lauren Potter, best known for her role as Becky Johnson on the hit TV series “Glee.” Lauren, like all of our participants, was born with Down syndrome. She is an accomplished actor, an advocate for those with disabilities and a crusader against bullying. We knew she was our gal! Within 36 hours, we had secured Lauren and her mother as a surprise for the kids. Forty-eight hours later, the hearts of business and community leaders opened with gifts of airfare, hotel accommodations, lunches, breakfasts, dinners, TV appearances, catamaran rides, dolphin adventures and cooking classes, and a farewell party… all adding to a rich, fun-filled and memorable experience for our participants. Although Lauren was unable to attend the opening night reception because of her travel schedule, she did spend four glorious days with our participants, showing them that everyone is “different” and that each has a gift to share with the world.
Society has labeled children with Down syndrome as “special needs” but nothing could be further from the truth. They are kind, loving and capable individuals who have dreams and aspirations, as all children should.
Throughout the 12-week internship, our participants showed us time and again, that life should be lived to the fullest and that dreaming big was not hard for them. As they learned the basics of photography, they taught us to see their world through their eyes. And what a wonderful world they see. A world filled with love, happiness and most importantly, acceptance.
ProjectFocus is blessed to have worked with these extraordinary children; they have taught us that all children are precious and deserve to be loved for their individuality, free from the limitations that society imposes.
“Shine: Inspiring Joy Through Their Eyes” is a tribute to unwavering exuberance and a reminder for all of us to find joy in everything we do.
Down Syndrome Ohana of Hawaii (DSOH)
Down Syndrome ‘Ohana of Hawaiʻi (DSOH) is dedicated to supporting families who have children with Down syndrome of all ages. Its mission is to unite and support families, provide advocacy and information concerning all aspects of life for individuals with Down syndrome.
The goal of DSO Hawaii is to provide a safe and nurturing environment and to foster socialization amongst peers and with adults. Events and workshops are intentionally planned to help develop self-esteem, self-worth, and acceptance. DSOH offers new or expectant parent visits, hospital visits, a variety of resources, family workshops, professional workshops and up-to-date information within the community.
2011 SUMMER INTERNS
Kelsey Yamanaka ~ Punahou School