Pablo is the first European with Down Syndrome to graduate from university, be an awarded actor, author, teacher and motivational speaker.
‘Pablo Pineda has made of his life an on-going learning experience. Pineda, now 42 years old, was the first European with Down syndrome to ever graduate from college, and he didn’t stop there. The unstoppable Spaniard is a twice-published author, a teacher, actor, TV host, and conference speaker.’ Writes Janel Saldana, in her article on Pablo for the Latin Times
Pineda attributes most of his success to the support of his parents
“I think I’m at the very front of the war, and that is inconvenient,” Pineda told BBC in an interview a few years ago. “You have to fight, get into society when the Down world usually tends to go in a different direction. I stay with the ‘normal’ ones while others with Down go to their organizations, their parents, their little tiny world.”
Pineda, who attributes most of his success to the support of his parents, confessed he is not “just one special case,” as some organisations have labeled his achievements: “It makes me very mad that they say that, because they do it to justify their lack of improvement, they use that to stop trying for the rest. I think it’s not true. I always tell parents not to pay attention to the fact that I’ve been in a movie, and have a career. That is not important. What’s important is that you can do it, and your parents have to teach you, and encourage you. After that, you can do anything.”
10 interesting facts about Pablo Pineda:
1. He was born in Málaga, Spain in 1974.
2. He holds a diploma in Teaching and a BA in Educational Psychology.
3. Francisco de la Torre, Mayor of Málaga, presented him with the “Shield of the City” award.
4. He received the Silver Shell Award at the 2009 San Sebastián International Film Festival for his performance in the film, “Yo También.”
5. He was also nominated for a Goya Award in the Best New Actor category.
6. He lives with his mom. His dad passed away about 6 years ago.
7. He wrote his first book, “El Reto de Aprender,” in 2013.
8. He currently works with the Adecco Foundation, with whom he has been developing an integration program that hopes for the social inclusion of people with disabilities.
9. He has travelled to other countries to present his plan, and encourage other communities to create job opportunities for people with Down syndrome.
10. He has been invited to participate in TED Talks, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes and expose ideas worth spreading.
See a clip of Pablo’s award-wining performace in "Yo También." (Me, Too.") below.
9 successful people with Down syndrome who show life is worth living
These nine individuals with Down syndrome show us that joy and success are attainable to anyone.
- Angela Bachiller. In 2013 in Valladolid, Spain, Angela became the first person with Down syndrome ever to be elected councilwoman. She worked for three years in Social Welfare and Family as an administrative assistant, and loves reading and traveling. She hopes to shine a light on the normalcy of life with Down syndrome and make a difference in the lives of those with disabilities.
- Megan McCormick. The first person with Down syndrome to graduate with honors from a technical college, Megan attended Bluegrass Community Technical College. She wants to work in education at the elementary level. She proves that with the right support and resources, people anywhere can reach their goals, Down syndrome or not.
- Tim Harris. Tim is the owner of his own restaurant called Tim’s Place. In high school he was elected homecoming king (by the highest margin of votes in the school’s history), and was named Student of the Year as well. He dreamed of owning a restaurant, so he found jobs in the industry to learn as much as he could. And, according to the Tim’s Place web site, former employer Red Robin says that the store’s revenue went up during Tim’s shifts. He graduated from college with certificates in Food Services, Office Skills, and Restaurant Hosting. In addition, Tim recently created Tim’s Big Heart Foundation to help other people with disabilities start their own businesses.
- Pablo Pineda. Pablo earned a bachelor’s degree in educational psychology and has gone on to be a writer, speaker, and actor. Born in Spain, he is a successful actor in his home country, receiving the Silver Shell award for his acting skills as well as the San Sebastian International Film Festival’s “Concha de Plata” as best actor of 2009 for his lead role in the film Yo Tambien.
- Christian Royal. School never came easy to Christian, but that is just fine because he holds a skill many of us admire. Christian is highly talented at making pottery. He sells his beautiful dishes and bowls online and at an art gallery in South Carolina.
- Bernadette Resha. Bernadette is also an artist who has made a name for herself. She and her work have been featured on television shows, in music videos, commercials, and magazines. In addition to creating beautiful paintings, she is a public speaker and violinist as well.
- Michael Johnson. A painter, Michael is a self-taught Naïve Folk Artist. He has painted more than 500 commissioned portraits and had a solo exhibition at Vanderbilt University in 2001. His art has been featured in posters and on the cover of the American Journal of Public Health.
- Sujeet Desai. A musician, Sujeet graduated from high school with a 4.3 grade average and went on to graduate from the Berkshire Hills Music Academy. He plays seven instruments including the violin, piano, trumpet and saxophone. He has received numerous awards and was even featured in the Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine as well as on 20/20 and the Oprah Winfrey Show. In 2006 he married Carolyn Bergeron who also has Down syndrome.
- Melissa Reilly. Melissa has accomplished quite a lot in her life. She has travelled the country as an inspirational speaker. She is a decorated, gold medal winning skier, cycler, and swimmer and she has interned for a state senator. Melissa also teaches reading and math to preschoolers with Down syndrome. She says she loves her life 100%, and she proves that you can have a very fulfilling life with Down syndrome.
Educate yourself about Down Syndrome
With more young people with Down Syndrome living today than ever before, it has never been more important that we do everything possible to help them lead more independent and fulfilling lives. Here is a comprehensive guide.