Recently, Facebook users have been sharing an inspirational video worth revisiting. Last year, people around the country were excited to learn about Yulissa Arescurenaga. Through dedication and hard work, Yulissa became the first licensed Zumba instructor with Down syndrome. A video of Yulissa energetically leading classes was shared on social media:
The dancing sensation first caught media attention when she led classes in Alaska while attending the National Down Syndrome Congress. The Alaska Dispatch News reported that Yulissa’s class at a special needs high school was an inspiration. A life skills teacher at the school described the experience to the Alaska Dispatch News saying, “It just opens up so many doors, to know somebody’s out there doing it. It teaches them they could be the first person with Down syndrome or autism doing something.”
Yulissa told Today, “Zumba is for everybody, everyone can do it. You don’t feel like you’re doing exercise. It’s just like a party.” Watching the looks of ease and excitement on her students’ faces indicates that her classes are anything but boring exercise.
Yulissa’s mother told Today that her daughter “loves to put a smile on people’s faces.” Her story being shared around the web is undoubtedly putting smiles on many people’s faces. Yulissa’s story also appeared in Teen Vogue and many other publications, hopefully inspiring young people with disabilities to pursue their passion with dedication.
Every year, hundreds of young people with Down syndrome are proving that they do not have the “limitations” people sometimes assume. Tragically, many parents who learn a child has Down syndrome before birth choose to kill that child by abortion. The Charlotte Lozier Institute estimates that abortion following a prenatal diagnosis has reduced the Down syndrome population in the United States by 30 percent. Perhaps if people heard more stories like Yulissa’s, Collette’s, and Oliver’s, they would have the courage to choose Life.
When people share stories like these, other parents have an opportunity to share their experiences. One mother commented on a Facebook post of the video that she has a daughter with Down syndrome. She wrote: “I treat my daughter just like I would any other child and expect others to do the same. We don’t like special treatment and we prefer you to see my daughter’s ability rather than her disability.” What a beautiful way of looking at the world!
There is clearly nothing holding Yulissa back from her dreams. From her initial love of Zumba, she has launched a career. She even danced on stage with Zumba creator Beto Perez! We look forward to seeing where she goes next.