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  • Writer's pictureJoan Medlen

There was a young man from Nantucket…

Break on Nantucket

Break on Nantucket

Since my time on Nantucket as a student last summer, I have a special place for life on this island (note the Nantucket web cams linked to this page). Of course, when visiting, I saw the tourist and student side to the island. I remember pondering what it must be like to live on Nantucket. I have to admit, though, I did not consider what it might be like to be a young adult with Down syndrome living on the island. Today a friend of mine sent a link to a story that comes from Nantucket…that I didn’t expect. Here’s the blurb from the website:

At a time when many people are dissatisfied with the state of our nation, one special Nantucket man offers a fresh perspective. Connor Gifford, 26-year-old who has Down Syndrome, penned “America According to Connor Gifford” along with author Victoria Harris. Because the late Tim Russert was a fan, the book is dedicated to the political journalist. Here is a sampling of Gifford’s poetry about war, civil rights and more.

Even better? The video.

Ok, I can do without the gal on the Today Show and her “sweet nab” comment she works so hard to get in there.  But Connor, on the other hand, is quite impressive.  Besides his book, what really inspires me, is how busy he is and the sorts of jobs he holds!

Most of us think of island life as being isolated and with limited opportunities. We presume that on the mainland, and particularly in urban areas, that our children with Down syndrome and related disabilities have more options. Connor completely debunks that myth. Not only is he a successful collaborator on a book, he has not one job, not two jobs, but three jobs in the community. Hmm. There are benefits to living on Nantucket all year long.And perhaps it’s easier not to be trapped in the “disability box” when brainstorming. I would imagine it is easier to get to know the restaurant, shops, and business owners. Hmm. Maybe we should consider Nantucket life…

Young people with Down syndrome work in restaurants here on the mainland – most often as bus boys (persons) and in the dish room. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone with Down syndrome as a host or hostess – but certainly they could be! It makes perfect sense for many.

You know me, I love seeing what tools work for people. I watched carefully as he marked off the tables he sat on the map for the restaurant. Of course, every host and hostess has these tools. Somehow, I never even thought of this job! What a great job.

The next time I am there, if I get the chance to return,I want to eat at that restaurant and meet Connor.

Oh yeah: Here’s a link to his book on Amazon.  As I write this, it’s ranked #793.

There is a young man from Nantucket…..

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