I am Cristina, a 28-year-old woman with Down syndrome. Sometimes it takes longer for me to learn new skills, but that has not stopped me from doing what I love.
Getting more education is one of my goals. I enjoyed school because I loved to learn and be with my friends, some who also have disabilities. Sometimes it was not so easy making friends and going to regular classes, but I set a goal to be more involved and graduate. So, I tried out for the school’s dance team and was the first girl with special needs to make the team. It was a lot of hard work and practice, but so much fun. Some team members included me in their lunch group and invited me to join them in other school events which meant so much to me. The teachers were very good at helping me learn because at times new subjects were a challenge for me, but I worked hard and graduated from high school in 2014.
I took drama and dance classes at Alamo Community College with my goal to go to college and be part of the dance team, become a dance teacher, and open my own studio. It has been very difficult finding a program in college that allows me to do this, and I hope to see some changes that allow people with intellectual disabilities to go to college to help us be more successful.
I have worked at the YMCA child watch since 2016, and I really like my job, especially when I take care of kids with special needs. Working at the YMCA gives me the opportunity to exercise after work, which I take every chance to do to stay healthy. My health is a very important goal for me, so I do a daily live Facebook exercise routine to motivate myself and others to stay in shape, eat healthy, and live happy positive lives. I also stay active being in a bowling league. Bowling helps me stay fit, be competitive, and meet many nice people who cheer me on when I get strikes. I also take piano lessons that help with my intellectual skills.
Another goal is to be a role model and advocate for people with disabilities. I volunteer at community events, the local library, and at the Down Syndrome Association of South Texas (DSATX).
Since 2019 I have participated in a pageant for girls and women with disabilities called Miss Amazing. I have represented Texas three times in the national event and have earned two bronze medals for volunteering over 100 hours. In 2022 I received the Miss Amazing Impact Award for coming up with the idea and designing the crazy socks for a Down Syndrome Association of South Texas fundraising event. Participating in the Miss Amazing competitions has challenged me to learn new skills such as public speaking and be more involved in my community.
My other personal goal is to get my driver’s license. I would also like to get married and have kids. But for now, what I enjoy most is going to the DSASTX Club Night to be with my friends, volunteers, and staff.
DSASTX Board of Director Advocate
DSASTX ABLE Program Trainer