Dublin schoolgirl's speech about her 'inspirational' best friend Lauren
A moving speech by a Dublin schoolgirl about her 'inspirational' best friend Lauren will touch the hearts of many.
Niamh Gasparro delivered the speech during a school function in South Dublin.
Niamh (14) told the the assembled crowd about a "new addition" to her school who, in turn, became a good friend who proved to be inspirational.
Lauren has Down Syndrome.
She also has a great sense of humour, is getting As and Bs in the same tests as her school friends, is thoughtful and no task is too big for her.
Niamh has described her as an "inspiration".
Read Niamh's speech below, and you won't disagree.
"A quote I read once said disability is the inability to see ability.
"As some of you may know this year we had a new addition to our school - a Down syndrome girl whose name is Lauren.
"Lauren is a very important person in my life and has taught me many valuable lessons. One of them being never judge a book by its cover, as beneath the surface there might be something great waiting to be discovered.
"Some of you may look at Lauren and shy away because you believe she is different.
"However, I believe we should embrace difference and let it change us for the better.
"Lauren has many great qualities. She is talented in many ways. She may not be able to run as fast as us or to speak as clearly but never has her disability stopped her from doing anything. Lauren sat the same exam papers in November as everybody else and got all A’s and B’s.
"She put a ton of work into getting these results and she is truly inspirational.
"However I believe that Lauren’s god given gift is her indescribable and incomparable personality.
"How many of you have a person in your lives that make you laugh everyday? How many of you have somebody in your lives that can lift your mood with one sentence? Lauren has a way of making you feel like you are the most important loved person when you are around her and I look forward to seeing her light up the place everyday.
"The other day she was sitting beside me at lunch. I was worried because I thought I was going to fail my science test. Lauren turned to me and said 'you’ll get an A, you’ll be fine' I know you can'.
"When it comes to approaching things, she never backs down as no task is ever too big for her.
"She is also the funniest person I know and many will agree with this. Her funny, witty and sarcastic remarks are hilarious and she often laughs at her own expense.
"Once, Lauren received a present of 'best friend' keyrings for Christmas. She debated for days over which one she would give me - the 'best' or the 'friend'. She was trying to figure out if I was the 'best' and she was the 'friend' or if she was the 'best' and I was the 'friend'. Typical of Lauren she decided to give me the 'friend' and her the 'best' because she really does believe that she is the best.
"Lauren has shown me no disability is ever too great to overcome. She has helped me to accept people from all walks of life. She has given me a gift that not many have.
"Throughout Lauren's life, there have been doubters and people who believed she would never live up to what she is today.
"Lauren, at every occasion, proved all those people wrong. She may have Down Syndrome, but in no way has this ever been a disability to her. Instead, it' s been an opportunity to prove her greatness.
"Lauren is one example of the many amazing people out there that are overlooked everyday.
"Unfortunately people believe that they are not capable of the things we are just because they are a little different. But ask yourself - is it really a bad thing to be different? These people are unique and deserve recognition. I was one of the rare people who put in the time and effort into getting to know a person who is diagnosed with a disability and just look what I discovered.
"I know that friends will come and go but Lauren's here for life.
"There is a saying - best friends are hard to find because the very best one is already mine - and this could not be more true with Lauren.
"After hearing this speech and knowing the amazing obstacles Lauren has both faced and overcome, how could you see her and say 'disability' when we should be saying 'what an ability'.
"Many disabled people are just as amazing, fun, happy and inspirational as Lauren. I write this speech saying that these people change you for the better. They are really worth getting to know. So my message is when you see these people don’t categorise them as a disability but as the people with some of the best ability."