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Gabriela Sniadowski ’17.

Gabriela Sniadowski ’17 found a way to combine her passion for music with service. Earlier this month, she appeared in Lion King, produced by EDGE Theatre and performed at the Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg.

The community-based theater combines actors with Down syndrome with their able-bodied peers and traditionally its shows play to sold out audiences. This was the 10th year of the musical, and many of its actors are involved with UPS for DownS, a Schaumburg-based support group for persons with Down syndrome and their families.

Gabriela is an avid volunteer with UPS for DownS, and beyond her love of music and performing, she sees acting in its musicals as one way to heighten awareness of the abilities of those with Down syndrome.

IMG_0041“I work with UPS for DownS to remind everyone that these individuals with disabilities are not lesser, but simply different,” she says. “By getting the message out there, by displaying publicly my support for this organization, I hope to instigate a wave of change amongst everyone I know.”

Gabriela adds that what she finds most rewarding about acting in these shows is seeing the change in her fellow actors—and in the audience members.

“When I have been privileged enough to observe this change in others, I have been in awe,” Gabriela says. “It is genuinely the most beautiful thing to see someone grow in their love, compassion and selflessness because of their exposure to diversity in all forms.”