John Franklin Stephens is an actor who also happens to have Down syndrome. And last month, Stephens gave a speech before the United Nations about the importance of seeing people with the condition simply as people.
During his speech, Stephens said that as a man living with Down syndrome, he is so much more than his disorder. “I am a man,” he said. “See me as a human being, not a birth defect, not a syndrome. I don’t need to be cured. I need to be loved, valued, educated and, sometimes, helped.”
Watch his inspiring speech below:
“What difference will inclusion, acceptance and early intervention mean?” he asks. Stephens says that in his own life, these things were ultimately responsible for his success, which includes a lead role in a movie, a recurring role in an award-winning TV show and writing for publications such as the Huffington Post. He has also testified in front of the United States Senate about the importance of scientific research on Down syndrome.
Stephens ended his speech by declaring, “A life with Down syndrome can be as full and exciting as any other… I truly believe a world without people like me will be a poorer world, a colder world, a less happy world.”
[h/t: A Plus]