I remember meeting Emmanuel Bishop at a pro-life conference 10 years ago when he was five years old. I have enjoyed receiving periodic emails about Emmanuel’s progress from his father, Victor, ever since.
Well, I received one yesterday that blew me away. It had to do with a keynote address Emmanuel, now 15, gave at the Trisomy 21: Down Syndrome in the 21st Century Conference in Houston, Texas, in February.
Here were the stated goals and objective’s of Emmanuel’s speech:
1. Highlight the abilities, talents, skills and gifts in Down syndrome.
2. Counteract the low expectations in Down syndrome.
3. Show that the joy of living does not preclude individuals with Down syndrome.
4. Mitigate the prevalence that everything told or written about Down syndrome comes primarily from someone without Down syndrome.
Toward that end, here is Emmanuel’s incredible bio. He is obviously more on the ball than me:
Emmanuel’s first presentation was at age 3 sight-reading flashcards in French at Lewis & Clark Community College in Godfrey, IL (March, 1999). At 6, he read a welcoming statement in three languages at the 2003 St. Louis NDSS Annual Conference Plenary Session in front of 600 people. At 12 he played a violin recital at the 10th World Down Syndrome Congress (August, 2009) in Ireland in front of 900 people and gave his PowerPoint presentation at a breakout session. This year he played the violin with the Antalya State Symphony Orchestra in Turkey for World Down Syndrome Day.
He has spoken at Down syndrome conferences (Eastern Pennsylvania Down Syndrome Center, Lincoln Land Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome Association of Greater Richmond, Trisomy 21: Down Syndrome in the 21st Century) and retreats (Frankie’s Fund Mother’s Weekend Conference [September, 2007]).
Emmanuel is homeschooled, is being raised bilingual English/Spanish and tutored in French and Latin. He sight-read at age 2; has studied Suzuki violin since age 6; learned to ride a bicycle at 8; was a State Special Olympics medalist in golf and aquatics: 200 and 400 freestyle at 10; and set six Junior Down Syndrome Swimming World records and became an altar server at 13 and confirmed at 14.
Emmanuel’s self-advocate presentation is targeted to parents and professionals to raise awareness of the abilities in persons with Down syndrome. The PowerPoint presentation entitled “Before and After” shows the life of a 15-year-old boy with Down syndrome: his interests and accomplishments in sports, music, academics and foreign languages. Golf, biking, violin, swimming, etc. video clips will be shown. Q&A follows the presentation.
And here are excerpts from Emmanuel’s presentation:
Emmanuel, I’m so proud of you. You’re such a wonderful example. And your parents are awesome, too!