That’s what 33-year-old Kincardine resident Adam Dunlop says about why he loves his restaurant job, as part of an indie Facebook documentary titled This is Adam. The film paints a picture of his life, depicting a man who loves his job, volunteering, sports, art, and hanging out with his family.
Director Shaun Carney came up with the idea of filming the documentary after finding out that Adam had been helping his son with reading at Elgin Market Public School. He’s been tutoring Grade 3 students at the school last year.
“I wanted to know more about him,” Carney said in an interview, “but I was kind of unsure of what I wanted to know and why. What was it about Adam that made me want to know him?”
Adam was diagnosed with Down syndrome at three weeks old. His mother Donna remembers saying, “We are going to be the best parents in the world for him.”
Open about the fact that he was previously uninformed about Down syndrome, Carney described his preconceived notion that the diagnosis meant that people are born, hit what milestones they can, and try to just get by.
“That’s what’s so intriguing about Adam, for me; what I thought wasn’t true. The case is that I was way wrong. He reads Chicken Soup books to become a better person and build up his character. He went to college. He volunteers in schools because that’s what good citizens do.”
Adam was determined to go to college after school, and so he and his family found Sault College, which had the most appropriate accommodations. He took the Culinary Arts program and it paid off. Adam has a restaurant job that he enjoys greatly.
College wasn’t a perfect experience for Adam, though, as he experienced his share of bullying. In the video, he describes a girl who led him to believe she was romantically interested in him, giving him hugs and kisses. Then, he says, she took his money and started making fun of him in front of his friends.
It got worse in his second year, when she messaged him and dropped a bombshell.
“She was pregnant with a baby she thought was mine,” said Dunlop.
That was a lie.
“We were just very upset that someone could treat another person that way,” says Donna in the video, “and we had to kind of hold back one of his siblings from going up there and taking care of things. But, you know, he just had to work through it and no matter how angry you get, there are people like that in the world. We just have to deal with them like Adam does.”
“I know that I’m different,” Adam plainly states. “I know I’m 33. But it hurts that I’m not looking like my age. I’m looking like my disability and that makes me feel different than everybody else.”
“It’s a pretty honest portrayal,” said Beth French, Volunteer Coordinator at Community Living Kincardine and District, who also participated in the interview with Adam. “It shows some of your strengths, some of your challenges, but it lets people know what life is really like for you.”
He’s quite satisfied, though, with the fantastic reception the video has received so far.
Initially, posted as a teaser that only featured a small amount of content, it blew up when posted in its entirety on March 21st. It currently sits at over 40,000 views, with over 100 comments and it has been shared over 640 times.
“Mom, Dad and I were shocked at how many people that got into it. And I didn’t know how big it would turn out, because at first it was small, but then it got bigger and bigger. I started to cry,” said Dunlop.
“It just goes to show his character and his impact in our community,” Carney beamed. “The response has been, for me, overwhelming, really.”
As for the future, Carney’s been approached by the Canadian Down Syndrome Society about having public screenings and Q&A sessions alongside Adam.
Adam had a great time through the entire filming experience and wished to express his gratitude to Carney for making it happen.
“I just want to thank him for doing that.”
“Don’t be afraid to share your story,” Carney said in closing. “Look at what we were able to do with that story. If [Adam and his family] had not been as comfortable and forthcoming, then it wouldn’t have worked.”