Sam Anderson is a thriving student, a manager for the varsity basketball team and a champion for people with Down syndrome. The teen, who has the extra chromosome himself, started a blog called In My Own Words, sits down and interviews others with Down syndrome to collect their stories, reflections and experiences in order to publish them for the digital world to see.
The 19-year-old from Wheaton, Illinois started In My Own Words with help from his journalist mother, who transcribes the interviews.
The blog features people like 20-year-old Sara Brinkman, who landed a hostess position at a local cafe. In their interview, Anderson asked what accomplishment she’s most proud of.
“I am proud to be independent. I work hard so that when I go to college, I can clean my room and do my laundry and cook by myself,” she told him. “I need to be organized like my sister. One of the things I love most is being independent—like when I took a plane trip by myself to see my aunt this summer.”
Anderson is putting the world of Down syndrome into view for others who may or may not experience it themselves. He’s showing what’s possible and inspiring a new kind of hope.
For that reason, he was featured in a documentary called “Sam Anderson: In My Own Words.” The short film, produced by college student Sarah Taschetta, has garnered more than 25,000 views since its release because not only does Anderson tell the stories of others, but he showcases just how exciting his own life is.
One of the reasons he agreed to take part in filming is because he believes that the more voices heard from the world of Down syndrome, the better.
“I think what they [people with Down syndrome] all have in common is their hopes and dreams; the chance to make it come true. Down syndrome doesn’t make a difference, okay? We make the difference,” he said in the film. “They always have a voice to speak. Their voices have to be heard. They should be proud of who they are.”
Here’s the full documentary, which chronicles Anderson’s life as a senior in high school juggling school work, sports and asking a girl to prom: