“Dance makes me feel really happy and I like to make my family proud as well” says Francesca.
A gifted dancer
Francesca loves to dance; not only is she part of PicNMix, a group from The Cornwall Down’s Syndrome Support Group, she is also a member of the Collective Dance Group with fellow students from Truro College and TR14ers, a hip hop community dance charity.
Helen Laverty MBE, who nominated Francesca says: “She is a jubilant and inspirational dancer and speaker who, as a graduate from the Time 2 Shine project, uses her experience to encourage others.”
`Time to Shine’ is funded by the National Lottery and is committed to making a difference to the lives of young people with disabilities in Cornwall. The older children (Shiners) help plan and run the activities to show employers what they are capable of in respect of future employment.
Francesca has danced as part of an inclusive troupe at conferences organised by Public Health England. She has spoken on BBC local radio to promote a flash mob to celebrate World Down’s Syndrome day, and appeared on BBC regional news in a report about PicNMix.
Francesca’s ambition is to teach dance.
Here Francesca talks to Cornwall Live:
An inspiration to others
In March this year, Down’s Syndrome International invited two `Shiners’ to attend the UN in Geneva to speak about their experiences to celebrate World Down’s Syndrome day.
Francesca eloquently read the poem ‘See my ability’ by Professor Paul Horan:
See my ability,
Not my intellectual disability,
See me for what and who I am,
I am an extraordinary human being just like you,
I can do many and sometimes more things than you can do,
Seek not to pity me,
And I will not pity you,
I seek understanding, caring and love,
I give my love unconditionally,
So Why can’t you,
Just accept me for all that I am,
Don’t feel sorry for me for what I cannot do,
See my courage,
And you too will have the courage,
To see my flame of hope,
And maybe you will see how I can teach you to care and cope,
When all else is done,
When my battles are won,
We can by working together give this world a special gift,
When we Share the Caring Feeling,
We can all get a much-needed lift.
Francesca met Helen – the professional lead for Learning Disability Nursing at the University of Nottingham – through her friendship with the directors of CAAP (Cornwall Accessible Activities Program). CAAP organises activities during the school holidays for young people with a disability or additional needs which prevents them from taking part in mainstream activities.
Helen Laverty says: “She is never afraid to speak up or out. She is the most effective role model for young children and parents with Down’s Syndrome who are just entering the scary world of main stream education. Francesca inspires people to dream big.”
An able student
Francesca is academically gifted; she attended local primary and secondary mainstream schools, with support, and achieved Grade 1 GCSE’s in Computer Studies, Food Technology and Combined Science.
She is currently in her second year at Truro College studying boxercise, dance and employability and she is preparing for her Silver DoE, having completed the Bronze at Pool Academy in 2017. She passed her Maths and English Entry level 2 this summer.
Helen says: “It’s not easy to be a high school student today, it’s even harder to be the only high school student in your year with a visible additional support need.
“Francesca has embraced every life opportunity school has opened up to her, and even those who have not been the most positive, Francesca dusts herself off and uses the experience to empower others. Francesca is a breath of fresh air, she brings light and joy into everything she does.”
“A well presented and very inspiring story. I feel that Francesca brings her inspiration to life through dance. I feel Francesca is the sort of person that can put her mind to anything.” – Leaders’ List 2019 Judge