Every Part of Life Counts
INNERview with Tony Piontek
YVONNE PIERRE: What inspired you to be become a self –advocate?
TONY PIONTEK: The inspiration started when I did my first Special Olympics speech I knew I had the determination, respect and dignity to be someone to represent everyone else who couldn’t speak. “I knew I had this in me” The gift of public speaking gave me the sense of pride and joy to full fill the eagerness to purse this long term goal.
YVONNE: What is the most rewarding part of being a self-advocate?
TONY: As a Self-Advocate I knew I was a voice for them and the freedom to speak and what they’re thinking, too. This is very first act.we start doing for them. It’s the ability to represent many people who aren’t able to. It’s also to trust, to be loyal and to be friends to all. It’ also captures the attention of any audience that’s going to hear me in being creative and out going.
YVONNE: You’re a photographer. How old were you when you revitalized you had passion for photography?
TONY: I was 10 when I knew this was my passion to be a photographer. “I knew there was a calling to give back to my Church and what I love to do” Also the ideas came to mind when I was H.S. at our Career Day.
YVONNE: What have been some of the biggest challenges for you and how did you overcome them?
TONY: To be loved by and to be accepted by others around us. By students and teachers, too. School, peer pressure, studying and tests. Hardest thing was being used by others who were and weren’t friends. I over came this with patience, respect and understand where we’re coming from IF you were in our shoes. Misunderstanding the needs we can meet in living and working independently. Having the fairness and and to be treated equally in social and real life experiences.
YVONNE: What is the most rewarding part of being a photographer?
TONY: The most rewarding part for me is the continuous gratitude and care from others that they enjoy my presence at local and church functions I’m into right now. “I really enjoy being a part of something special too that’s meaningful. The other part is these friends do it return, too.
YVONNE: What is the main message you would like to send to parents of children with Down syndrome?
TONY: The main focus is to keep in mind that all children are to loved as they are. Be there for them every step of the way from the laughter crying and the stages of understanding life’s challenges. “Every part of life counts from young to adolescent ages. “Praise them in positive ways and use these positive examples to be tools to be used on a day by day basis. “Hands on, oral, and written tests are important to be used in a everyday cycle for children and young adults so they can improve in many ways. “Think and dream BIG “God says, You are the hand made of Lord and so you shall be”
YVONNE: What are the most important things parents should know about helping supporting their children with DS?
TONY: To love, care and understand their needs and to be there whenever they may stumble and don’t know about life. “Life is precious at this age and when growing up is when the fun and creative positive thinking comes in play”
Make sure they interact with other kids their age to encounter many new adventures to know it’s out there and see their progress in their school, home and in the community. For the parents connect with other non- profitable organizations near them. “Be as active as you can with your children in everything that they may want to do”
There’s always many other ways to be creative and have fun at the same time. Taking them for ice cream cone, play in a play ground or even at a Park, Zoo’s also visit all kinds museums, too.
YVONNE: There many misconceptions about DS. What would you like people to know about individuals with Down syndrome?
TONY: They have all the potential to be loved and to be respected by other young adults and by adults who are negative. They’ve been denied no chance in living a dream or even to wish they can be with their true parents. Have a sign of hope and love to come true for him or her. “There’s always a good sign of love, faith, hope and joy to be encouraged by living good lives and living by good parents who love their own children the most” Don’t ever doubt this fact of life.
Let’s remember to see what they’re doing to give back in supporting for all disabled young adults to create independent living and to seek for more job opportunities for them. Another way to get rid of these isolated rooms or buildings that take away the freedom seeing what else is out there for all disabled people who can’t see the world from closed doors they all need to be opened and let them all have chance to be free and to explore new adventures. “With God everything is possible. Matthew 19:26
YVONNE: If there anything in this world that you can change what would it be?
TONY: To get rid of negative and neglecting all people with disabilities. The other thing is to be positive person and to be gracious for what you have already. To have this program called to end the word of the R word. It’s now capital campaign going out everywhere.
In our opinion and through your experiences, what can we do as an advocate that could be the most beneficial to making you and others with Down syndrome?
“To just be ourselves and to be treated as anyone else would be.”
We all can make our own decisions, enjoy our lives full of happiness, communicating with others and be able to live a life full of love with his/hers family and friends.
YVONNE: What else would you like to share with readers?