Robert Pio Hajjar:

I was only two days old when the doctors told my parents to put me away and forget about me. They said I would not walk or talk or do what other kids do. They painted a very sad picture of my life and my future.

I have Down Syndrome, but I never feel different, I’m always the same. And Down Syndrome doesn’t bother me at all.

I always wake up and I see the sun rise and I dance, I sing, I do lots of great things.

I go swimming at the aquatic centre with my dad. It gets you pumped up and exercise. And I do lots of swimming.

I held a record in 25 metre freestyle:16.9 seconds.

We had a swim meet at the aquatic centre this month and I was just so fast. I said to one of my coaches that, “I’m not going to leave here until I get the first place,” so I got the first place.

We had a great time and I love that.

I go bowling to Fleetway with lots of friends. And every time they put songs on, I just get down, I dance and boogie all the time. And then after that I just get right at it – get the ball and throw it, and I do 10 pin.

I love bowling because we have family fun time. We bowl every time.

And I love lots of songs. I go to HMV and I tell my aunt, “Leave me here, because I love this favourite store.” HMV’s one of my favourite stores I go to.

They have like great staff. And I always go to one of the staff and say, “Do you have the national anthem?” I love the national anthem. I play the Oh Canada every single time.

2006 I spoke to my Aunt Addie about starting a charity for helping people like me, people with disabilities, Autism and other disabilities.

My first donation was $62.05.

I love the company I started. I speak at conferences, venues across North America and I’ve been speaking to high schools, colleges, universities, elementary’s.

And I speak from my heart.

I have 35 years experience living with Down Syndrome. I know what it’s like to walk in these shoes. And I can tell you that being a friend to someone like me is a life-changing experience.

People like me will help you grow. We will help you become better people. You will learn so much about yourselves.

I’m sending a very important message for people with disabilities. We are just like you. You have to understand abilities and value.

I’m so proud of who I am.

That’s what I always say to my speech every time: See me first, then my disability. Or just see me.