JACKSON – Township resident Steven Robertson recently appeared in a video for the National Down Syndrome Society that helped kick off Down Syndrome Awareness month.
Robertson appeared in a Unique Times Square Video presentation. The Jackson resident will appear in the bright lights of Broadway on as part of the National Down Syndrome Society’s annual Times Square Video presentation.
The featured photographs highlight children, teens, and adults with Down syndrome, reminding the world in a very big way about the contributions and milestones of people with Down syndrome. These collective images promote the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.
NDSS President and Chief Executive Officer Kandi Pickard said, “this video is a terrific way to showcase some of the incredible individuals with Down syndrome living in our communities across the country. It is something the community looks forward to every year.”
Pickard added that the photo of Robertson was selected as one of 500 photographs that appear in the video, streamed on NDSS social media from the heart of Times Square.
Down Syndrome Awareness Month kicks off in October and the Times Square Video presentation will be followed by the New York City Buddy Walk, which will take place virtually due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Buddy Walk events will be held virtually in more than 150 cities across the country, as well as select international locations, this fall with over 325,000 people participating around the globe.
The NDSS is the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome. NDSS programming includes the National Advocacy and Policy Center. The organization seeks to create systemic change through engaged advocacy; the National Buddy Walk program, which honors and celebrates individuals with Down syndrome in local communities across the world.
Steven’s mother Paula Robertson said she had sent in pictures of Steven to the NDSS for the Times Square video in the past but was never chosen. “I decided to send in one this year on July 2 and we were so surprised and happy it was chosen to air in the Times Square video.”
“It was originally to play on the Jumbotron on September 12 to kick off the Down syndrome Buddy walk but due to technical difficulties it debuted on the Jumbotron in Times Square on September 20. Steven is 18 and has lived in Jackson all of his life,” she added.
Steven attends the Alpha School in Jackson and his mother said he has “a love for all kinds of music, especially Queen and Freddie Mercury. He has watched the movie Bohemian Rhapsody numerous times.”
“The photograph of him I sent in was of him dressed as Freddie Mercury for Halloween of 2019. We just thought he made such a good Freddie Mercury I had to enter the picture. I also felt that it showed people how individuals with Down syndrome enjoy dressing up on Halloween and enjoy music just like everyone else,” Paula Robertson said.
She added, “the entire point of the video is to show the inclusion of people with Down syndrome so we thought it was perfect for the video. He loves to party and have a good time. That’s all he ever wants is to belong. He doesn’t think of himself as a special needs teen.”
“We’ve never treated him any differently. We are proud of Steven every day,” she said, explaining some of his accomplishments in the past few years, such as his completion of the Monmouth County Police Boot camp in 2018.
Steven regularly donates blood at the Howell blood bank and he bowls for the Special Olympics, has worked at the Jackson Library and enjoys assisting in the collecting and dropping off food at the Ocean County food bank, which he does through Alpha School.
Steven has an older sister and a brother in the Airforce. He would like to join the military or become a police officer when he graduates from school.
“He loves watching WWE wrestling (John Cena is his favorite wrestler), Nascar racing, loves playing video games, riding his bike, watching movies and spending time with his friends and family,” she said.
The teen is also looking forward to voting in the presidential elections this year for the first time. “He loves everyone he meets and has so many people that love him too. I don’t think we can go anywhere in town without bumping into someone that knows Steven. He is truly a blessed happy young man who loves being a productive member of society,” his proud mother added.
Steven said he always wants to help his teachers, staff and friends at school. “He has the same dreams and aspirations as anyone else his age. He is so loved and loves so much.
“Trisomy 21 is the technical name for it. The most common form of Down syndrome. Many people seem to think we knew beforehand about his condition and that we knew what challenges we were taking on. This was not true in our case,” she said.
His mother added, “Steven has accomplished all that he has while having a gradual loss of hearing, He wears hearing aids and had major surgery just weeks before Halloween of 2019 and still managed to pull off a spot on Freddie Mercury. He is a trooper.”
“His father and I are so proud to call Steven our son. We know he will continue to thrive and do good things as he gets older,” Paula Robertson said.
Visit buddywalk.org for information about the NDSS Buddy Walk Program. For information about the organization and future events call 800-221-4602 for more information about NDSS programs and resources.