Students with disabilities often get attention for the things they can’t do rather than what they can accomplish. One Clemson student is proving that having disabilities doesn’t necessarily mean you have to live a separate life from all the other students on campus.
Sydney Davis has Down Syndrome, but that’s not stopping her from participating in the Mrs. Clemson University pageant this coming weekend. Let’s back up – it’s already awesome enough that she’s in college to begin with – and even better that she’s trying to experience it to the fullest.
“I represent all girls with disabilities,” Davis told reporters. “They will be proud of me, and I know my friends will.”
She works on campus at the bowling alley. Her mom, Patti, couldn’t be more nervous about her young daughter’s decision to participate in this event on Saturday due to her special needs.
Davis participates in the ClemsonLIFE program, which is designed for students with disabilities and helps facilitate their college experience.
Sydney is just like every other student in so many ways – she participates in typical activities like cooking, attending football games, tailgating and spending time with friends.
So far the young girl’s involvement has also extended to work. Davis has a student job at the recreation center and a growing confidence from her new found independence and University experiences.
Patti says it’s hard to watch her daughter attempt new and different things, for fear of what could happen to her. Potential mockery, failure, disappointment – mom worries about these and more. But Sydney has helped talk her through the decision to run for Mrs. Clemson University.
“When you know it’s going to be the best thing for her, that does it,” Patti said when it comes to keeping her calm about the big moves her daughter is making on her own.
Down-Syndrome.org explained that teenage progress for adults with Down Syndrome can be varied but includes advanced activity and increased levels of confidence, both sentiments showcased by Sydney.
To prepare for her big day, the young lady purchased a new dress as well as participated in dance lessons.
In addition to that, she has been taking pageantry lessons from Rachel Wyatt, a woman who is
Miss Clemson, Miss South Carolina and the runner up to Miss America.
At the end of the day, Patti said, “She’s just an unbelievable girl (and) I think a lot of kids with disabilities can do this stuff. We just don’t give them credit to try.”
But now she has it and her families full support!