As the end of the school year grows closer, many children are eager for summer to begin. For Amanda Young, a sophomore at Hayden High School, being in school with her peers is something she eagerly enjoys. “I love going to school and being themanager for Hayden’s basketball and volleyball teams,” she said.
In 1999, Mark and Terry Young were anxiously awaiting the birth of their third daughter, when they learned that their unborn child, Amanda, would be born with Down Syndrome, a condition in which extra genetic material causes delays in the way a child develops, both mentally and physically. “At first it felt like a devastating diagnosis because we had no idea how her future would be affected, what limitations she would have or whether she would have other health issues. I am so glad we found out early because we were able to be ready to start services for her as soon as she was born,” her mom Terry said.
For many years, the Young’s opened their hearts to help individuals with disabilities, but the thought of their own child needing services never really crossed their minds. As a teenager, Terry and many members of her family began volunteering at Easter Seals Capper Foundation (ESCF), which led Terry and her husband Mark to become involved. In 2001 they received the Capper Work Horse Award for their extensive volunteer service. Terry also received the award again in 2008. Terry served as Board Chair and on the Board of Trustees for many years. She was also Chair of the Board Fiscal Committee and continues to serve on this committee. She has participated in the Easter Seals Advocacy Summit and visited with Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to advocate for individuals with disabilities and their families.
At nine months old, Amanda began receiving services at ESCF. She started in a group called “Water Babies”. The warm water therapy pool was used to encourage and help develop walking skills, confidence and to assist with vocalizations. Terry says, “ESCF has the most amazing, caring, and knowledgeable people and they have worked with Amanda throughout the years to help her enhance her gross and fine motor skills, as well as assist her with her speech development.”
Over the years, Amanda has continued to receive a variety of services and currently sees Speech-Language Pathologist Julie Watson at ESCF. Julie says, “Amanda is a good listener and responds well to instructions. During therapy activities, I can see her thinking things through and applying strategies being addressed to support her communication. One of my favorite things about Amanda is her involvement in her school and community. I think she has a positive effect on others, as indicated by the many smiling faces of those around her in the photos she shares. I enjoy working with Amanda and learning more about her with each visit.”
Not only does Amanda have Down Syndrome, when she was in first grade the Young’s learned Amanda also had sleep apnea. She started using a CPAP machine at night to help her breath while she sleeps. When Amanda was in 6th grade, she was diagnosed with narcolepsy. “There is a definite challenge for doctors when treating her because one diagnosis causes her to fall asleep during the day and the other diagnosis causes her to wake up at night,” her dad Mark said.
Though Amanda has many obstacles in her way, she doesn’t let them stop her from achieving her goals. Amanda helps everyone around her take a second look at people with disabilities and learn to appreciate their abilities. Raven Lawlor, a senior at Hayden High School, has been friends with Amanda since grade school. “Amanda just really cares about everyone. She is always putting others first. Every time you see her in the hallway she runs to give you a big hug. She knows how to put a smile on your face and she makes you want to be a better version of yourself, she’s just so inspiring,” said Raven.
Everyone that meets Amanda will tell you how giving she is. In fact, Amanda spends most of her time helping others. “I started volunteering with my older sister Allison. I really like helping others and volunteering with my friends from Hayden.” Every summer Amanda volunteers at Most Pure Heart of Mary Church Summerfest. She helps make meals for home-bound individuals, and enjoys visiting with them when she delivers the food. Amanda also volunteers regularly at ESCF, helping with a variety of projects. Michelle Kaberline, ESCF Volunteer Manager said, “Amanda enjoys giving back; she does a great job and each time she completes a task, she is always looking for more to do. It is truly a delight to work with her!”
Currently, Amanda is doing an internship at Animal Clinic of North Topeka and absolutely loves walking the dogs and helping to care for all the animals. She participates in Top Soccer and is in Exceptional Equestrians. She has taken piano lessons since second grade and performs in recitals twice a year. Amanda is a HUGE KU FAN! She regularly attends their football and basketball games and was given the 6th Player Award by the 2016 KU Women’s Team at their annual banquet in March.
Mark and Terry are very proud of their daughter and all of her achievements. Amanda has been a strong advocate for the iCan Bike Summer Program at Capper, where individuals with a disability learn to ride a two-wheeled bicycle. Amanda’s parents want other parents to know, “Have the same expectations of your child with disabilities as you would have for any other child and only adapt those expectations when your child really needs them to be adapted. It is amazing what your child will be able to accomplish if you just give them the opportunity to try!”
The entire Young family is a great role model for our entire community and beyond. They are actively involved and give their best effort and their best self in everything they do. They know only one way of giving: with both hands, with both feet, with all their heart, and without a second thought.
At Easter Seals Capper Foundation we know disabilities touch us all. We also believe we are stronger and better together. Our services would not be possible without the extraordinary support we receive from friends like you. Thank you for helping us change the way the world views people with disabilities and for considering a generous contribution to help more individuals like Amanda build their abilities and be all they can be. Your support makes such a positive impact and you will feel good about giving!
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