Peace Seeker Spotlight

Posted on: September 24th, 2013 by jeni No Comments

=

-

Peace Seeker

Fall 2013

-

Kathleen Downes

New York, USA

\[[

Kathleen Downes has been seeking peace, and sharing an inspirational message of inclusion and peace, all her life.  Since 1993 when she was born, Kathleen has lived with cerebral palsy. "It is not always easy to have a disability," Kathleen said, "but I am proud of who I am."

-

Since 2001 when she first learned about Mattie from her 3rd grade teacher, she has been inspired to share Mattie's belief that "Hope is real, peace is possible, and life is worthy!" Today, Kathleen serves as a Board member and volunteer for several youth and disability organizations. Her goal is to foster acceptance and a celebration of what Mattie called the "mosaic of humanity" -- for people with disabilities, and for all people in our world. She is also a two-year member of Mattie's Peace Club.

-

Now, as we celebrate individuals and groups during National Disability Awareness Month, the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation honors Kathleen Downes as the Peace Seeker Spotlight Honoree for our Fall 2013 post.

-

 -

Kathleen Downes -- Peace Seeker Spotlight Feature

Peace Seeker Honoree, Kathleen Downes, and her twin sister, Claire, celebrating a message of peace.

-

Tell us a bit about yourself.

=

My name is Kathleen Downes. I am a 20-year-old junior at the University of Illinois in Champaign, where I study Community Health with a concentration in disability studies. I minor in Spanish.

 

When school is out, I live in New York with my parents, twin sister, and older sister.

 

When I graduate, I want to be a disability advocate, focusing on expanding community based care.

 

My passions are reading, writing, and volunteering. I enjoy writing about social justice issues and disability rights issues, especially on my blog The Squeaky Wheelchair.

-

What does “peace” mean to you?

-

Peace means making positive choices and building a better world.

 

Mattie has long been a great teacher of peace for me. I was introduced to his books by my 3rd Grade teacher, Laura Kelly, in September 2001. I have been a fan ever since!

 

I aspire to embody peace through my writing, by giving others a message with which they can connect.

 

Kathleen Downes during a 2012 visit to the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park and Peace Garden.

-

How has Mattie inspired you in your peace mission?

Mattie said, “Peace is for ALL people.” I am dedicated to creating an inclusive world for people with disabilities.

 

I was born with cerebral palsy in 1993. For my whole life, I have taught others to treat people with disabilities as part of “the mosaic” – to be celebrated with pride and joy as members of our human family.

 

Currently, I am a board member of National Youth Leadership Network, a youth disability advocacy group. I participate in various disability awareness activities around campus. I also serve as a mentor for our new students with disabilities, and I enjoy offering guidance to younger people at my childhood summer camp, the Southampton Fresh Air Home.

 

I am also a member of Mattie’s Peace Club, and enjoyed visiting the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park & Peace Garden and meeting Mattie’s mom, Jeni, during a visit to Maryland last year.

-

It is not always easy to have a disability, but I am proud of who I am. I want to foster self-acceptance, as well as an environment of acceptance, for those with disabilities, and for all people. Mattie continues to show me the way, and to help me look for light in others.

-

What else would you like to share?

-

My favorite Mattie-ism is “Peace is possible, hope is real, life is worthy!’ To help me remember these thoughts, I keep a gratitude journal everyday.

 

I am honored to be a recognized “Peace Seeker” – thank you so much, and with peace and love! One day, I hope Mattie will join me for tea in Heaven.

-

Thank you, Kathleen,

for being a Peace Seeker.

Congratulations!

-

 -

Visit Kathleen’s blog here:

www.thesqueakywheelchair.blogspot.com

 -

Visitors are welcome to use

any of the pictures on her blog.

-

 -

 

 -

Return to Archived Spotlight page

-

Return to Main Spotlight page

 

 

 

 

 

 

January Spotlight

In-Kind Support

Celebrating our "in kind" sponsors and advocates -- who support Mattie's Foundation with services and materials. Thank you ezStorage, Montgomery Printing, Parcel Plus, and Potomac Valley Brick! Read more...

Nourishment Support

Celebrating our "nourishment" sponsors and advocates -- who support Mattie's Foundation with food and services. Thank you Botanero Restaurant, Fontina Grille, Safeway, Coffee Republic, and Red Hot & Blue! Read more...

Community Support

Celebrating our "community" sponsors and advocates -- who support Mattie's Foundation with commitment and participation. Thank you City of Rockville, King Farm Citizen's Assembly, Kick's Karate & Mix 107.3! Read more...

Champion Support

Celebrating our "Foundation Champions" -- sponsors and volunteers of all ages who support Mattie's Foundation through donations, brick sponsorships, participation in our activities and events. Thank you!!! Read more...

- Mattie J.T. Stepanek