Down syndrome advocate Grace Strobel on pushing boundaries: ‘Let no one tell you what you can and cannot achieve’

·2-min read

At just 24 years old, Grace Strobel is making a difference in the world through her work as an advocate for people with Down syndrome and embracing her beauty as a model.

The Missouri native tells Yahoo Life's Brittany Jones-Cooper that she's been underestimated since she was born, recalling what the doctors had told Strobel's parents about raising a daughter with Down syndrome.

"Doctors told my mom and dad that I would not achieve much. That I would never read or write or even tie my own shoes," Strobel says. "I'm here today to tell you they were wrong."

Fortunately for her, Strobel's parents continued to be their daughter's biggest supporter, reminding her to "work hard, be strong and that Down syndrome does not define me," she says. Their words even helped to get her through some of the more difficult times of her life.

"About three years ago, some kids started making fun of me. When they laughed at me that day, I felt alone and hated... I cried so hard I died inside," Strobel recalls. "That is when I decided I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to show how you can change someone’s life by being kind and giving respect."

With that mission in mind, Strobel founded a program called "The Grace Effect" where she goes around to different schools and talks to students about what it is like to live with Down syndrome. "It teaches the kids about having struggles," she explains.

But her work at schools is only one part of Strobel's efforts to educate others about Down syndrome, as she also aims to create representation by working as a model. To date, she's appeared in 15 magazines.

"I love modeling because it makes me feel good about myself and it helps others to believe in themselves," she says.

Ultimately, it's believing in herself that's gotten Strobel to where she is today.

"Let no one tell you what you can or cannot achieve. Push those boundaries and live," she says.

Strobel adds: "I think my modeling and speaking show it’s possible. It helps others to believe in themselves. Be confident, believe in yourself, work hard and never give up."

—Video reporting by Brittany Jones-Cooper and produced by Jacquie Cosgrove

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