Just Like You – Down Syndrome: An Interview with Rachel and Savanna


Photo courtesy of the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City


A collaboration between Just Like You films and the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City has resulted in a fantastic video,  Just Like You – Down Syndrome This video features Elyssa, Rachel and Sam – three kids with Down syndrome and their best friends, Bretlyn, Savanna and Bobby.   They talk about Down syndrome, what it’s like to have Down syndrome and how others can support those with Down syndrome and be their friend.

I have known Jawanda and Rachel Mast for almost 10 years.  Jawanda was on the Board, and then the executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis and the Mid-South (DSAM) when they lived in Memphis.  Rachel attended public school and studied piano with my husband at The McMahon Piano Studio.  In 2008, the Mast family moved to Kansas and became involved with the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City.

On Saturday, December 1, I had the privilege to interview two of the stars of the video – Rachel and her best friend Savanna.  Rachel has Down syndrome.  Over Skype, we talked about the film and their friendship.  Rachel’s mother, Jawanda Mast, was also present and contributed to the interview.

How did you girls meet?

Rachel: We met at school in fifth grade.
Savanna:  We were in the same elementary school class and have known each other for about 3 years.

You girls have been friends for a while, what kind of things do you like to do together?

Rachel: We do games, movies and sleepovers.
Jawanda:  Savanna also likes Rachel’s iPad©.
Rachel: We play Water.
Savanna:  Water and Cut the Rope.

What kind of movies do you like to watch?

Rachel:  We like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and um, we watch movies at my house.
Savanna:  Didn’t we go see Arthur’s Christmas?
Rachel:  No.
Savanna:  Yeah, we did. We did go see Arthur’s Christmas.  It was good.

Savanna, what makes Rachel a good friend?

Savanna: She’s very nice, very compassionate.  I mean, she doesn’t care what you are or what you dress like.  She’s very considerate.

Rachel, what makes Savanna a good friend?

Rachel:  She’s fun. She’s kind.  She likes to hang out with me.

Tell me about the video, Just Like You – Down Syndrome.  How would you describe it?

Savanna: Very informational.  It has a lot of information about how to deal with Down syndrome and how to be friends with somebody with Down syndrome.
Rachel:  I think that it’s awesome and good.  I love it and would love to do it again. And, I want everyone to see it.

How did you like being a part of the movie premiere?

Savanna: It was fun.  We got to ride in a limo.

What else happened at the premiere?

Savanna:  We got to walk the red carpet and watch the film.

Were there a lot of people?

Savanna:  Like 400 people at an AMC theater.

Jawanda:  At the end of the premiere, they brought the 6 kids on stage for a Question and Answer. They were open ended questions with no practice.  Tell Liz your favorite questions.

Rachel:  Um, if we have boyfriends and girlfriends.
Jawanda:  What was your answer?
Rachel:  Um, no.
Jawanda:  And then she said that her mom says she’s not old enough to have a boyfriend yet.

Savanna:  I think my favorite was when they asked about the heart problems.  They thought that they did, but they didn’t.
Jawanda:  In the video, they talk about how some babies with Down syndrome have a heart problem. So, someone in the audience asked the kids if they had heart surgery.  So, Rachel went first and said yes and then started to describe her heart surgery. Then, her daddy and I said, “no – Rachel, you did not have heart surgery.”   Then, they ask Sam and he begins to talk about having heart surgery.  Then, his parents say, “no – you did not have heart surgery.”   Then, they give the microphone to Elyssa and she says, “mom, dad – did I have heart surgery?”    It was funny.

What do you want other kids to know about Down syndrome?

Savanna:  It’s not contagious.
Rachel:  Down syndrome is not scary and I love my life.

What do you want the world to know about Down syndrome?

Savanna: Individuals with Down syndrome may look and act different, but people with Down syndrome are just like you.
Rachel: Kids with Down syndrome like to have fun and do the same things as everyone else. We are good friends.

Just Like You – Down Syndrome is a wonderful video for adults and children to watch.  It shares great information about Down syndrome, but it mainly focuses on the individuals.  Down syndrome does not define anyone.  As Rachel says in the video, “it’s just one part of my beautiful self.”

One of the best things about the video is that it shows some great friendships.  Friends are people who accept us and like us for who we are.  Friends love you and make you feel special without expecting anything in return.  After watching Rachel and Savanna interact with each other and learning more about them, it’s easy to see that they have a lot of fun together and are good friends. That’s perhaps the greatest lesson and gift from this video – friendship is important and everyone needs and can be a good friend.

Special thanks to Rachel, Savanna and Jawanda, Just Like You films and the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City. 




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  1. Thank your for sharing our blog post. We love the Just Like You – Down Syndrome film and want everyone to see it!

  1. {Down Syndrome Awareness} Great Presentation To Kindergartners | Special & Determined | A Special Needs Mom Blog

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