As a parent, I think one of the most important things we can teach our children is to accept people for who they are and to extend ourselves to others even when we struggle to find common ground. For my oldest two daughters, who are typically developing, this philosophy has encouraged them to get to know and spend time with people that are different from them — people who have different backgrounds, beliefs and perhaps most importantly, different abilities. I believe that when we live this way, walls come down and meaningful relationships are born.
For our family, who has also been blessed with two children with Down syndrome, this philosophy is very personal – so much so that it has transformed our lives and equipped us to become passionate advocates for the acceptance and inclusion of people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
It was this philosophy that inspired me to write the song, “Be the One” and to create a music video that would be a call to action for people everywhere to be the one who makes a difference in someone’s life. I wanted to encourage others to step off of the sidelines and to remind everyone that we all deserve a chance.
With the help of hundreds of people, volunteering their time, talent and resources, “Be the One” music video began to take shape. And when my friend, Lauren Potter, perhaps best known as “Becky” on Glee, agreed to star in the video, I knew we were about to create something extraordinary.
“Be the One” tells the story of a high school girl with Down syndrome who feels alone and longs for friendship. When approached by a peer in the cafeteria who stops to ask her name, both girls’ lives change for the better. The chain reaction that occurs as a result of this intentional act of kindness, leads to more peers accepting and including her and the friendships that are formed are genuine and meaningful.
It was my dream that “Be the One” would someday reach young people everywhere, light a fire in them and encourage them to make a difference in someone else’s life. With the help of Special Olympics that dream is about to become a reality.
I am beyond thrilled to announce that beginning this January, “Be the One” will be distributed in schools across the country as part of the Special Olympics’ School Enrichment Program a lead up to 2014 Special Olympics USA Games to be held in New Jersey next June. The Program will consist of a series of four videos — all with the purpose of encouraging students to consider the impact they could have in the lives of others and especially in their schools. “Be the One” will be the fourth and final video of the series.
When I embarked on this journey to create “Be the One” it was my dream that it would inspire people all over the world to step off of the sidelines and make a difference in someone’s life.
It is also my dream that someday there will be no need for videos like “Be the One” because our society will be practicing inclusion and acceptance at all times and we will embrace and value people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.