The road less traveled. It’s a road Amanda Ewald, 19, has traveled her whole life—to find inclusion opportunities. She became the first young woman with Down syndrome to attend Buffalo Grove High School, and to participate on the women’s swim, badminton, and bowling teams there.
“I hope to be a ‘Super Senior’ there next year,” she says. She and her family believe it will be best for her to stay in an inclusive setting and to continue making academic progress, so we wish them well as they head into their IEP!
Read the rest of Sam’s interview with Amanda below, including her tips for fellow actors with lots of lines to memorize (She recently starred as Dorothy in the UPS4DownS production of the “The Wizard of Oz”).
You did such a great job playing Dorothy, how did you memorize all those lines? “I got the script and mom helped me. We worked on it a few times a week. Every time, we tried to do more. It took about six months to learn all of them.”
Any tips for others? “Just keep going over and over them!”
Was this your first musical, or have you taken part in others? “I’ve been in ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ the second one was ‘Guys and Dolls,’ my third was ‘Hair Spray,’ the fourth was ‘Music Man,’ then I was the young Nala in ‘Lion King.’”
Where do you attend school and what are your favorite classes and why? “I’m a senior at Buffalo Grove High School. My favorite classes at school are math and reading. My other favorites are lunch and gym. I’m also doing a preschool class called Human Growth and Development. I like working with the kids. We play games—lots of London Bridges, tag, and Red Rover—and we have circle time.”
What do you like best about high school? “I’m a good swimmer. I do aquatics. I’m on the girls’ swim team, and on the bowling and badminton teams.”
What other activities are you involved in? “I do Buddy Baseball with Brett, and I do Buddy Soccer.”
Who is Brett? “He’s my boyfriend. He was the Homecoming King. I want to marry him. He’s nice and he’s friendly. He’s also really funny, and so sweet. I like text him, and he calls me. We met in preschool, and we’ve gone to six dances together. Turnabout was my favorite because I took a picture in a photo booth with him.”
Tell us about Homecoming. “We had a reception with the principal. We went to the game, and they had a parade at the game. I got to ride in a convertible car with my boyfriend. It was all pink, and it went around the track. We had crowns, and robes, and I got flowers.”
What do you like to do in your free time? "I do swimming, and I like to watch movies with my mom, listen to music, and play on my iPad. I also play a lot of games with my mom, and I love to hang out with my friends.”
Who’s your hero and why? “My mom, because my mom is my favorite. She takes me to breakfast, and to dinner, and to lunch. She also took me to Disney World.”
What are your goals for the future? “I want to be a doctor, a dentist, a lifeguard, and a vet. I also want to work at Red Robin. It’s my favorite place to eat.”
What does Down syndrome mean to you? “I like it, because I do a lot of things with friends who have Down syndrome. We have parties, and we get to do things like go to Waterworks on Saturdays.”