I Love My Life, Because, "God Don't Make Junk!" When I was born in 1978 doctors told my parents to put me in an institution because I have Down syndrome. My parents didn't listen to the doctors. They took me home and loved me because they knew I was a gift from God. My parents know, "God don't make junk!" I know it too! I have a great life. I live and work in my community. I have three part-time paid jobs: Applebee's Restaurant (8 years), Hannaford Grocery (2 years), and I have been a speaker for the NYS Self Advocacy Speakers' Bureau (over 5 years). When I speak about my life I tell people I only want to work part-time because, "I don't want work to interfere with my life." People who hear me want my life. That's because I have a really good life! I have a self-determination plan. With self-determination (CSS) I hire my support staff. I am learning things I will need to live on my own, and will soon live in an apartment next to my parent's home, where I live now. This is my choice: I want to stay connected to my family and Church community, and have a place of my own too. I don't want to live with strangers or ever live in group homes. I love to travel for speaking and vacations. (I really like hotel life a lot.) I attend the Potential Unlimited Music Institute where I play drums, congas, dance, and I am a member of their company troupe, where we will perform for money someday. I have a spiritual life. The most important thing in my life is my relationship with Jesus and our local fellowship, New Covenant Community. We live near our church and I am involved in all church activities. I am a twice-certified Toastmaster (international speaking organization that takes a lot of hard work to get certified), and I am Sergeant-at-Arms for our club. I love being in our Toastmasters club in Saratoga and they love me. Toastmasters helps me be a better public speaker. Sometimes my mother and I are a team and we will speak together. My mother is an advocate and I am a self-advocate. I use PowerPoint when I speak. My favorite job is speaking and I do conferences and workshops all around the country. I also do keynotes, once in Guatemala! I speak at the National Down Syndrome Conferences almost every year and I also do workshops for other self advocates. Sometimes I do a sushi-making workshop called "Maki with Michael." A photo of me doing that workshop appeared on the NDSS Times Square video, and I went to New York City to see it live! When I speak at conferences, I tell people about my awesome and wonderful life. I tell people that just because I have Down syndrome doesn't mean I can't do things. I can do a lot, because "God don't make junk!"