The month of October is recognized as Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and it aims to highlight the fact that those with Down syndrome are capable of doing anything they set their minds to. Julia Slater is a prime example of that. The talented young dancer is a star on social media, specifically on TikTok, where she has close to 200,000 followers.
TikTok Star Julia Slater Celebrates Down Syndrome Awareness Month
Julia Slater’s Love for Music and Dance
The 23-year-old’s journey towards social media fame is closely connected to her passion for music and dance. According to her mother, Ruth Zive, it’s been something she’s been drawn to since her early childhood.
“Julia has always loved music – from infancy really. And I noticed even as a toddler, when she was watching Barney, that she had this uncanny ability to watch the dancing movements, and memorize them,” Zive pointed out.
“So Julia was mimicking dance routines from television programs she enjoyed from very early on – since she was three or four years old.”
A Life-Changing Decision
Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is usually associated with physical growth delays, mild to moderate intellectual disability, and characteristic facial features.
Initially, Zive was hesitant to enroll her daughter in a dance program because of her special needs, but looking back she’s grateful to have made the decision to enroll her at ViBE Dance & Fitness Studio Inc. back in 2002.
In the 18 years since her daughter has found a second home at the Thornhill-based dance studio.
Julia Slater is eager to speak about her passion and enthusiasm for dance.
“It gives me a lot of energy, and I have had so many experiences from dancing, and I love being there,” she said.
“Because of dance, I’ve made so many friends, I have a teaching job and I even danced with the Raptors twice.”
They are my sisters in crime and I love you both so much 😘❤️ #sistersforever @mini.sass @lindsrebboh
Rena Schwartz, co-owner of ViBE and one of Julia Slater’s long time dance teachers, says she’s a natural.
“Julia picks up choreography, both technical and intricate, like a true professional. She also loves adding her signature final pose where she flies into her middle splits.”
ViBE’s other co-owner, Marnie Schwartz, speaks highly of her talents as a dancer.
“We honestly think that Julia surprises people with her talent. Whether she is showcasing a dance on TikTok or performing a routine at ViBE in the dance class, she is just amazing,” said Marnie Schwartz.
“Julia Slater is the sunshine of ViBE. The sun makes people happy, brings out a positive energy, and gives people a reason to smile, that’s Julia,” she added.
“We are so proud of her. She is the epitome of what ViBE stands for with her passion for dance, her enthusiasm for life, her positive energy, and her contagious smile.”
Her mother, Ruth, is thankful to ViBE for creating an inclusive environment and nurturing her daughter’s passion for dance.
“ViBE has nurtured Julia’s passion for dance, built her confidence, grown her skills, and stretched her outside of her comfort zone. It has been a pleasure to witness,” she noted.
“Through dance, Julia has learned so many things, and her passion seems to grow from year to year. It’s quite remarkable.”
Julia Slater Showcasing Talents
Wanting to showcase her passion and talents as a dancer with others, Slater decided to upload videos of herself dancing online. She still recalls her very first dance video uploaded many years ago.
“When I did my first video it was still called Musical.ly. The song was called ‘Do I Have Your Attention’ and right away I had a lot of likes. And when Musical.ly became TikTok, I changed my account to the one I have now.”
Musical.ly was acquired by ByteDance Ltd. in November of 2017 and was merged into TikTok. The TikTok mobile app allows its users to create a short video of themselves which usually features music as part of the video and has over 800 million active users around the world. TikTok has drawn a number of headlines in the news recently with talks of a possible ban in the United States due to privacy and security concerns.
Celebrating Down Syndrome Awareness Month
With close to 200,000 followers, Julia Slater is grateful to have a platform to connect with others.
“I am very happy about it. I am speechless about being a star. I have amazing followers and fans on TikTok and I try to be a role model for them,” said Slater.
Born with Down syndrome, she is quick to speak about the significance of the month of October.
“Down Syndrome Awareness month is a celebration. It’s good to celebrate Down syndrome because it’s a part of my life and I feel proud to be a part of my community,” said the 23-year-old.
“It’s good for people to know about Down syndrome, and in October, I can be a role model to show that people with Down syndrome can do amazing things.”
Keeping the Conversation Going Beyond October
Ruth Zive speaks about the importance of continuing the conversation with regards to Down syndrome awareness beyond just the month of October.
“People with Down syndrome are definitely capable of more than what the world expects them to achieve. Julia has challenged my preconceived ideas of people with Down syndrome and she has done some incredible things in her life,” she said.
“But I actually think the message is bigger than that. People with Down syndrome, in my opinion, deserve the same things as the rest of us, regardless of what they are able to achieve.”
The mother of five points out that some studies have shown parents and siblings of people with Down syndrome have claimed that their quality of life, level of happiness, and confidence to be higher than the general population.
“I would urge anyone who has a prenatal diagnosis to speak with other parents, people with Down syndrome and those who love them,” said Zive.
“I think all of my other children would agree that knowing Julia, loving her, and being her sibling has enriched their lives immeasurably,” she continued.
@mattsteffanina can you do this dance as well? @tiktok #viral dancing with @vibestudio
“Compared to my other children – and my other daughters in particular – Julia, by far, has always been the most confident, the most willing to take risks, the least interested in what other people think about her. She feels beautiful, smart, capable, and fulfilled in her life.”
More Alike Than Different
Through her daughter, Zive has learned that those with Down Syndrome are more similar to everyone else than they are different – and should be treated as such.
“They should be embraced by the rest of the world and offered the same opportunities, rights, and privileges, as everyone else. And that should be regardless of their achievement, performance, or skills.”
And just like everyone else, Julia Slater has dreams and goals for the future.
The 23-year-old dancer says she’s good with kids. She would like to be able to work or volunteer as a full-time teaching assistant in a classroom or a school.
The TikTok star also reveals a shorter-term goal of achieving a special distinction on the popular video-sharing social networking service.
“What I really want more than anything is to get verified on TikTok and get a blue checkmark,” she said with a smile.