Alex as YMCA Featured Member

Alex was the YMCA Featured Member in their April 2008 Newsletter. Here is the article:



Top: Alex participating in the Y’s Fitness for Teens program. Bottom: Alex with his mother and two sisters

A “Can Do” Attitude”

Alex Pearsall is an athletic, confident, 12-year old boy. For most of his life, Alex has been involved in youth activities at the Y of Central Maryland’s Dancel Family Center in Ellicott City.

When he was younger, his activities included pee-wee sports, tumble bees and other Y toddler programs. As he got older, it was swim lessons, summer camp and Y sleep-in’s. Now that he’s on the brink of teenage-dom, Alex’s passion is Y Fitness for Teens, a two-day-a-week, afterschool fitness club for teens.

Throughout his Y journey, Alex has enjoyed the full scope of benefits Y youth programs provide; a healthy lease on life, enhanced social skills, physical conditioning and coordination, the list goes on. Alex receives a great Y experience because the Y sees him as a vibrant child who has Down syndrome, not a vibrant child suffering from Down syndrome.

Alex is the third of four siblings. He has two older sisters and a younger brother. He is the first child in the Pearsall family to have a disability. “Right away, we saw how we were treated differently,” says Jessica Pearsall, Alex’s mother. “Places that used to be so welcoming suddenly weren’t as accommodating. Honestly, I thought we were further along than that.”

Alex’s older sisters participated in Y programs, so naturally, Alex followed suit. “The Y embraced, welcomed and supported our family just as they always have,” says Mrs. Pearsall. “They never saw disability as a setback. Their whole attitude was ‘No big deal. We’ll find a way to do this.’ ”

The Pearsall family is actively engaged in changing the stigma about developmental disabilities. Alex has presented at three national conferences lobbying for people with developmental disabilities. He’s spoken at universities and in front of the United States Senate. He was even invited to the White House by President Bill Clinton.

“Alex has a ‘yes I can’ attitude because of how he is treated at the Y,” says Mrs. Pearsall. “His participation in Y programs helped mold his strong sense of self-confidence. The Y never once told him, ‘you can’t do this’, so he knows there’s no reason to ever settle for anything less.”

Here is the original article.