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Girl knows her people!
As Becky Jackson on Glee, Lauren Potter is an inspiration to a new generation of kids, with and without intellectual disabilities . The show has given her a platform to do so many wonderful things, like go to awards shows, do outreach for charities and even be appointed to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Currently, she is working in conjunction with a program called iPads For Autism, with a goal to get 23 iPads to The Carolyn E. Wiley Center, which offers programs to Autistic youth. In fact, the center was vital to Lauren's early development as she was treated by the staff as an infant with Down Syndrome
Her work is so incredibly important that we were thrilled to get the chance to ask her a few questions about the program, her charity work, and what big names are offering up their celebrity to help! Check out what Lauren had to say:
Your work to bring more awareness to people with Down syndrome and autism is truly inspiring. How has your role on Glee helped further your important work?
Since Ryan [Murphy] and these other producers have given me the opportunity to play Becky on Glee, it has made it possible for me to have a bigger “voice” to speak out for kids and people that sometimes don’t even have a voice! I have been able to use the “fame” that Glee has given me to help out with these important causes
Autism with iPads is an interesting concept. What are the benefits of getting this technology into the hands of kids with autism?
It is so cool what the teachers can do with iPads to help kids with Autism. The teachers have told me that there are awesome apps that they can use to help the kids learn.
Why did you choose Edward Norton's Crowdrise as a means to raise the funds you need for this project?
I’ve seen a bunch of people raise money on CrowdRise – I’m realizing why it’s so popular – it makes giving fun and easy, which is what we need for this iPad campaign! A simple click to a link and you can donate.
How has the care at the Wylie Center for children with autism and Down syndrome evolved since you were a child there and what more would you like seen done with the program?
It is such a great program for kids with intellectual disabilities. I was a baby with Down syndrome when I started there and my mom says that they helped me and her so much. Now they use a lot more technology. I want more people to know about Wylie and help them help more kids like me!
What challenges have you faced as an actress with Down syndrome?
Well I think mostly just getting people to realize that I am good at what I do and I can do a lot more things than they think I can. I just want them to give me a chance. I want to do movies and other TV and have parts that aren’t just for a girl with Down syndrome, but just a girl!
Last fall, President Barack Obama appointed you to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. What kind of opportunities has this new position afforded you to make a difference in the battle against Autism?
The Committee advises the President on issues that can affect people with all intellectual disabilities. I am so excited that President Obama trusted me to help him. I want to help people with jobs, school, and living independently where they want to!
How have your co-stars on Glee helped you in this important work?
Some of them are helping me by Tweeting about the iPads we are trying to get for the Wylie Center, and Jane Lynch and I did a PSA together to help stop the use of the R word…I hate that word and I want it and bullying to stop!
What is the biggest misconception about people with Down syndrome and autism you’ve encountered and how would you like to see that change?
I just want people to know that we are like everyone else. We have the same hopes and dreams and want love just like everyone else does.
What advice would you give to a kids struggling with being autistic and being bullied at school?
Tell someone like a teacher or your parents. Typical kids need to stand up too and say enough is enough! Bullying is just wrong and we all need to say “no more!!!”
You recently did a PSA with Jane Lynch about the use of the “R” word. What other celebrity would you like to join forces with to bring more awareness to the cause? Maybe Helen Mirren?
Chris Colfer said he would help and I would love it if some of the other cast members would join me too. I would love to join with Helen Mirren! She did my voice in the episode Yes/No but I didn’t get to meet her…I would love that! And I just met George Clooney at the SAG awards, I would LOVE to work with him!! And I just want people to help by going to HERE!