Last spring, Choices received an email from Chelsea Bailey, now 18, of East Hartford, Connecticut, saying that she enjoys our magazine. But something’s been bugging her: “I have not seen anything that talks about students like me,” she wrote. “I would like to suggest that an article be written about students with intellectual disabilities and all they can accomplish if given the chance.” Chelsea, with the help of her mom (who did the typing for her), explained that she’s a swimmer, a National Honor Society student, and so much more—and she happens to be a person with Down syndrome.
Down syndrome is a genetic condition, meaning that people who have the syndrome are born with it. Typically, people have 46 chromosomes in each of their cells. People with Down syndrome have 47, and that extra chromosome can cause physical and intellectual differences. But mostly people with Down syndrome are the same as anyone else. They have big dreams—and though they may have to work harder or differently, they can achieve them. If they’d like to, they can work, vote, and go to college.
Turns out, Chelsea was right about Choices lacking coverage of people with Down syndrome in recent years, so we decided to do something about it. On the next few pages, you’ll spend a day with Chelsea and get to know her—the ways in which she’s just like any other high school senior, the ways she’s a little bit different, and what she most wants you to understand about her life with Down syndrome.