The Kids On the Block
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Ellen Jane Peterson

Ellen Jane is 17 years old and has Down syndrome.  Down syndrome is a developmental disability which usually causes delays in physical and intellectual development, but there is a wide range of cognitive abilities in people with Down syndrome. Ellen Jane is now in a transitional program in high school that is designed to help her develop practical life, communication and social skills. Part of her day is spent in a special education classroom focusing on practical academic skills like using a computer and managing her money. She also takes elective classes including music and physical education.

Ellen Jane works at the Valley Animal Hospital as the veterinarian's assistant. Ellen Jane loves this job because she enjoys working with animals. Through her various work experiences; Ellen Jane is learning many new skills which will enable her to be independent after graduation. She enjoys participating in sports, particularly swimming and bowling. Ellen Jane even won an award for her swimming skills at the Special Olympics. During the summer, she is an assistant counselor at a day camp and helps the swimming instructor give lessons. Ellen Jane has lots of friends and is involved in many extracurricular activities, in both school and in the community. One of her favourite activities is being a member of a community club for girls who have Down syndrome. With a counselor, the girls discuss their feelings, frustrations and goals. Well, I guess I like anyone else my age. I go to high school and I like to hang out with my friends and there's this one boy I really like! I've got big plans and stuff...for when I get older, just like anybody else.