Just say "Hi!"
By Laurren Karr, Health Information Specialist                                                               
En Español
Meaningful and lasting friendships are an important part of social and emotional wellbeing; however, children with disabilities can often struggle when inclusive friendships are few and far between. Margot (14) and Charrlotte (10) have been best friends for four years. These amazing young women share a heart for friendship and a mission to spread the word about the importance of inclusion and acceptance.
Margot and Charrlotte met on a sailboat at camp. Charrlotte explains, “I was so eager to make new friends at camp. I decided to start talking to Margot, and then we started playing together. Ever since that day, we have been BFFs!” Margot adds, “At first we were shy because we did not know each other. Then we said ‘hi’ and asked each other questions. We found out we had a lot in common.”
An important part of their friendship is their confidence in themselves and their unwavering support for each other. Margot writes, “The best thing about me is that I am a lot of fun. I stand out because of my personality and that I have Down syndrome. I am passionate about what I like. I am going to be a writer.  My favorite thing about Charrlotte is that she is on board with my plans. She gets me. She is unstoppable because she has a lot of energy and has great ideas.” Charrlotte says, “The best thing about me is that I am kind and smart, and I am good at singing. My favorite thing about Margot is that her Down syndrome makes her who she is- which is unique and awesome. She has a really beautiful singing voice, too.”
When explaining why friendship is important to them, Margot answered, “Friends are important because they are your companions on the trail. They can help you with things you struggle with when nobody else can. I feel happy that my friend and I always have each other’s backs. Being left out is my biggest fear so I’m glad that I have a friend like Charrlotte.” Charrlotte agreed, “Friendship is important to me because friends are always there for you. If you didn’t have friends, you would feel really lonely and life would be a lot harder.”
Margot and Charrlotte want to spread the word about why it’s important to have inclusive friendships. Charrlotte says, “If everyone was exactly same, there would be nothing special in the world. It would be boring. Having friends who are different from you can make life more fun, especially when we see and celebrate the things that make us different.” Margot shares, “Sometimes people with Down syndrome need some more help but we still have friends and we can still be silly together. We might be different on the outside but we are basically the same on the inside. When you have Down syndrome, your face is different from other people, so people can notice that you are different right away. Other people who don’t have Down syndrome might be different too but their faces don’t show it so you find out they are different when you go up to them and meet them. So you should go up to people with Down syndrome and give them a chance. Everybody needs help, and friends, and people that care for them.”
In the end, I think Margot sums it up best when she says, “We are all unique in our own way. It is fun to get to know other people who are different from you. People who are different are funny and caring and loving just like you. If you are feeling stressed out when someone is different, just go up and talk to them and then soon you will become friends. Just say “hi" to get you started! Like Charrlotte and I did!”
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