Avivacious teen with endless dreams, local Hanson resident, dancer, model, and Massasoit college student Maddie Phillips celebrates life and sees no road blocks ahead.
Phillips, who was born with Down syndrome recently recorded a public service announcement (PSA) for television, which she debuted last week.
The message: educating others about how she wishes people would see her and not interpret her only as someone with a disability.
Mingle with Maddie, a reception hosted by Maria Wood owner of Fashion Focus in Pembroke where Phillips is developing her career in modeling and acting, was also a gathering of friends and family as Maddie spoke of future endeavors.
Wood has coached her in poise, confidence, public speaking and modeling for several years and is now helping her break-in to the modeling industry.
“My words come from my heart. Your encouragement makes me feel stronger,” Maddie said as she thanked everyone for coming and sharing in her excitement.
Her parents Lisa and Scott Phillips were at the event with a debut of their own, the first copies of “Angel,” a book written by mom Lisa about Madison Rose Phillips’ journey through life with Down syndrome.
Through her life, Maddie’s various talents include 15 years of dancing, horseback riding and volunteer at Sunshine Farm in Bridgewater. Sunshine Farm uses healing and uplifting experiences for children who have experienced trauma in their lives. She also plays guitar, and for many years jogged with her mom.
Liam Talbot of Hanson was in the front row to cheer her on after presenting her with yellow roses at the event — head also been her prom date last spring before both graduated with the Class of 2016 from Whitman-Hanson Regional High School.
Talbot has had a life long struggle with arsenic poisoning, an illness he was born with, but he has also overcome the stigma of his condition — and has an unstoppable outlook on life.
She thanked him and said he is her friend that she thinks about him each night before bed. With a gracious heart and full of spunk she went on to thank each person who attended reminding them of a reason they were important to her.
When describing her life she stated simply, “I am happy. Sometimes people think or tell me I can’t be normal. I am Down syndrome. I get upset and say ‘what should I be?’ I am not invisible and I want to fit in. I take a breath, calm and I thank my insides. I can be a better person and find inspirations then I go after it. I am not just Down syndrome I am like her,” she said pointing to all the girls in the room. “I am very funny, nice, confident, energetic, and very determined.
Her advice to others with a disability? “Down syndrome can’t stop you. You can’t give up,” she said.
In her PSA Maddie educates others and asks, “Do you see me or do you see disability?” She tells the audience, “I have Down syndrome but it doesn’t define who I am.”
To see Maddie’s recent event and learn more about her endeavors visit facebook.com/mariawoodfashionfocus.