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Sounds Newspaper – October 8, 2007
South Puget Sound Community College

Student Spotlight: Dylan Kuehl, an Inspiration

by Kenny Bahl/ Sounds Staff

Dylan Kuehl might seem like a kid you’ve seen a hundred times on campus. He is the kind of student you don’t really talk to, or maybe the kind of person you are nervous to be around. However, Dylan Kuehl is not your typical student, and he is definitely not what most people think of when they meet someone with Down syndrome. He is a person who has dreams and goals just like the rest of us, and strives for people to understand that.

Dylan has been a student at SPSCC for four years. He is set to enter in his first college level classes, and his schedule focuses mainly on the arts and topics that will help his idea of self employment blossom into something lucrative. In order to be able to do this, Dylan has had to prove that he can handle not only the academic side of classes, but the work load associated with his hectic schedule.

Dylan has been a well known local artist, having shown his work at SPSCC. Currently, his paintings and drawings are on display at the Thurston County Juvenile Courthouse for the public to see. However, lately his painting has taken a backseat to his true passion: dance. Dylan has started a dance company called “Heavenly Dance Company.” Their debut performance is on October 5th at the Olympia Artswalk. The dance company is for people of all ability levels. Through this company, anyone can become a “dancing star.”

Dylan may be an activist for the rights of the disabled, but he makes it quite clear that is not what he is all about. He does not want to be treated special, just equal.

Additionally, Dylan is about to be featured in an article, “One of the Guys” in the fourth issue of Logan Magazine (www.loganmagazine.com). His is also the subject of an upcoming PBS show entitled, “Biz Kids.” The show will begin shooting when Dylan goes to participate in “Buddy Walk” in Seattle, which is an event meant to spread the word and awareness of Down syndrome. Dylan’s part on the show will be about money and finances. It will be shown nationally on the show’s second season.

While Dylan has been able to rise above the stereotypical expectation of our society, he does have one thing in common with other people with his condition. That one thing is a problem with traditional employment. He worked for a local grocery store, and while he was able to complete the tasks presented to him, he got sidetracked by conversation with people who would come into the store and recognize him. Since is a very talkative person, this became a problem. His job was about time management and getting things done in a quick manner. Because of this experience, he decided that the only way he can be happy and utilize his qualities to make it though life is self employment. Hence, the opening of his business, DK Arts (www.dylankarts.com). On the website, he sells prints of his art and features videos of himself performing dance and Kung Fu.

Dylan’s pursuit of self employment is one shared by many people with disabilities in the United Stated, including the founder of Logan Magazine. It is beginning to capture attention of inspirational icons – including Oprah Winfrey – who may put the subject on the air.

While the present seems bright for Dylan, the future may be even brighter. His is an astonishing young man full of ideas and ability. Yet, one thing is still missing: the acceptance of his classmates, and the society he lives in. Hopefully that will change in time with a little perseverance and strength.

Writer Kenny Bahl can be reached at soundsnewspaper@spscc.ctc.edu

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