Random Rochesterite: Kayleigh Steward
One resident, numerous anecdotes
Name: Kayleigh Steward
Where we found her: Backyard house concert
You were dancing when we met. In fact, we were dancing together! What’s your favorite music to dance to?
Dancing Queen—because it makes us dance!
What school do you go to?
I go to Harriet Bishop at Overland. I’m in the fourth grade. Mrs. Schultze and Miss Alyssa are my teachers.
What do you like about your teachers? Miss Alyssa is fabulous and makes up things. And Mrs. Schultze always is kind, and she does math.
Math is fun?!
What are five things you love?
The movie Annie. I like to dance—I do a hip hop class at Folwell. I like swimming. I’m in the Rochester Flyers swim team [the local Special Olympics swim team]. I like to eat cupcakes—gluten-free vanilla and strawberry ones because I have celiac disease. And I like listening to birds.
Do you have a favorite bird?
I like the toucan.
What’s your favorite song from Annie?
“It’s a Hard Knock Life.” [Starts singing.] “It’s a hard knock life for us, it’s a hard knock life for us…”
What’s your favorite stroke to swim?
I’m really good at doing the backstroke, and I can go really fast in the crawl. I’m a good swimmer. It’s one of my favorite things to do.
It took us a while to schedule this interview because you’re pretty busy! Dance and swimming aren’t your only activities, are they?
I go to CCD [religion class] at St. Bernard’s, and I just made my first communion last Sunday. I have skating lessons at the Rec Center. Outside, I like volleyball. And I go to camp. This year, I’m going to Good Earth Village.
What’s something exciting that you’ve done?
I went to the JoJo Siwa concert! It was actually very exciting—and right before it started, there was a countdown, and we were SCREAMING, because I love her awesome music! She’s my favorite singer. I went with Mommy and when I found out she got tickets, I jumped up and down and said, “YAY! YAY! YAY! I get to see Jojo Siwa!”
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A lifeguard. There’s a lot of rules at a swimming pool—no splashing, no diving, no running, always swim with a grownup. I can blow the whistle if they break a rule.
Do you have any scars?
Right here on my eye. We were going to have a Jenpachi dinner and I was excited, so I did a cartwheel to the couch in the playroom, and I hit the coffee table. I did a flip over the couch and kept going. We went straight to the ER and I got stitches, and then we came home and ate our Jenpachi.
What is something you do not like at all?
I don’t like soup, because it’s spicy.
Who’s in your family?
Mommy, Dada, myself, Kayleigh, of course, and Grammy, Nana, and Annie and Lilly and Olivia, my cousins.
What’s something you like about your mom?
She always does nice things for me. And I like it when she makes dinner. My favorite dinner is vegetables. I like carrots, broccoli and peas.
What’s something you like about your dad?
He always plays rock music. We listen to Queen and the Beatles and Taylor Swift together.
Where is one place you want to travel someday?
I want to go to the forests and see the big trees. And Paris, because Grammy loves Paris.
Where is a place you’ve traveled?
I like to go to Idaho, to Sun Valley. I see my Nana and my cousins there. And we love Lake Superior. We camp there, and I love to throw rocks in the lake.
What’s something you think everyone should do?
Stay safe. And don’t stay on the sidelines. This is your own story, so be the star. Sophia Sanchez says that. She’s an Instagram star and she’s a special friend. She’s a girl with Down syndrome. And I have Down syndrome, too. I met her last summer on a Zoom call. We chatted and danced together. I read her book, You Are Enough. It’s about inclusion, which means that all people belong.
What does it mean to have Down syndrome?
It means that I look and learn differently than most people. It’s part of who I am inside of me. I have an extra chromosome. There are good things about Down syndrome, but the most important thing, the best thing, is to shine your light and give love. I love to give kindness.