High school student inspired to shine her light for others

Published: Mar. 4, 2023 at 9:12 PM CST
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WYNNE, Ark. (KAIT) - A student in Wynne wants to be an example for her community on and off the stage.

Taylor Murphy is a sophomore at Wynne High School. She is participating in her school’s production of Matilda.

She also has Down Syndrome.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, around 6,000 children are born with Down Syndrome each year, or about 1 in every 700 births.

Babies with Down Syndrome are born with an extra copy of Chromosome 21.

People with Down Syndrome face challenges in life, but Murphy doesn’t want to let those challenges stop her from chasing her dreams.

Her love for the arts began at a young age, she started taking dance lessons when she was two years old.

She’s seen other actors with Down Syndrome on TV before, so it has inspired her to go after her dream.

“I watch people with Down Syndrome on Netflix and said, ‘Oh, wow, I want to be just like them.’ I want to be on TV,” she said.

Her mother, Schunda Jones-Murphy, said her daughter has never looked at her disability as an obstacle.

“Taylor has always been, ‘Ok, what’s the next challenge? Mom, can I, do it?’,” she said.

Both Murphy and her mom hope her journey can change people’s views of Down Syndrome.

“I hope that she is able to inspire others to have an open heart and to give students with disabilities, not just Down Syndrome, the ability to participate in anything,” said Jones-Murphy.

Jones-Murphy said being a parent to a child with Down Syndrome can be challenging, but she’s had support from other parents and her own family.

“I’m just doing what any other mom would do, it just takes us a little extra time, but we can do it. It takes us a little bit of extra practice, but we can do it,” she said.

She stressed that supporting her daughter is biggest thing she can do.

“When they’re given the opportunity, those students have some magnificent skills and abilities that they’re able to do,” she said.

Murphy just received her driver’s license. She saw that her friends were driving, and she wanted to do it too.

She’s been driving herself to play rehearsals at the school. She wants to be an inspiration for other youth.

“You could do the same thing that I’m doing, take dance classes, participate in plays also. I just want other kids with disabilities who want to participate in anything that you can have fun,” she said.

Her advocacy goes beyond the halls of Wynne High School, she’s also spoken at conferences in the country about living with Down Syndrome.

“She sat with the Global Foundation Medical Board and sat with doctors. Taylor was able to share her experience about her surgeries, things that she felt were need for her community, which is often underrepresented,” Jones-Murphy said.

Murphy said she wants to be on Broadway in New York City, but she also wants to become a veterinarian.