The leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome.

National Down Syndrome Society
8 E 41st Street, 8th Floor
New York New York 10017
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Self-Advocate Diana Stolfo's World Down Syndrome Day Speech from UN

Hi, I'm Diana Stolfo.

I am happy to be here to represent NDSS and our NY/NJ community at this historic UN celebration for World Down Syndrome Day!

Let me tell you a little about myself and how I have overcome obstacles to become more independent.

I am blessed to have been born to Salvatore and Joanne Stolfo. I'm the oldest of 3. I'm 30 years old, and in case you weren't sure, I have Down syndrome.

When parents have children like me they always worry about their future. Well, I am MAKING my future NOW.

Even though I am differently-abled, nothing has ever held me back from making my dreams come true.

After over 28 years of living at home in Ridgewood, I am now living independently in my own apartment in Allendale Orchard Commons, along with 11 other differently-abled adults, including my boyfriend, Matthew Arnold. In SEPARATE apartments, of course. Orchard Commons is NOT a group home; it is a GROUP of homes. We have become a community as well as a part of the Allendale community. We have formed a Tenant's Association. Twice a week some of us exercise with the Allendale Women's Club. We've made it a point to shop at local stores and support the business community. And, when we have a great recipe to share, we invite the town Mayor over for dinner.

I also work; I work hard! Right now I have 4 part-time jobs. I view this as a blessing, but my dad has a different point of view when HE's preparing my tax returns. (Thanks, Dad)

  • I work as a Clerical Assistant at ECLC in Ho-Ho-Kus, a school for students with Disabilities.
  • I am employed as a teacher's assistant at Meaningful Movements Dance Studio, where I work with children and Adults who are Differently-Abled.
  • I am also a Receptionist in the rectory at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Ridgewood, NJ.
  • My longest job is at Baby and Kids Gap as a Sales Associate. I've been working there for 11 years now! I originally got this job through a Transition program at Ridgewood High School.

I use a Google calendar to keep all this straight and keep my family up- to-date on my schedule. My biggest challenge now is arranging transportation to my various jobs. Transportation has been very complicated. I am also learning to strategize and to make my own decisions.

I am living proof that we can all grow and develop no matter how differently – abled we are. Let's put our minds TOGETHER and build even more INDEPENDENT futures- WORLDWIDE!

Thank you.

  • Buddy Walk
  • NDSS Yourway
  • NDSS DS-Ambassadors