An Oro-Medonte woman with Down syndrome continues to battle through the "difficulties" in her way and this week made history by earning her fifth-degree black belt in karate.
Sarah Lampi, 27, began taking karate lessons when she was just six years old.
“My mom and I have always gone together,” she explained. “It’s a good exercise that people can learn a lot from.”
Lampi, an Eastview Secondary School graduate, says mixed martial arts has taught her self-defence, confidence, and how to live a healthy lifestyle.
“I’ve met lots of friends through karate,” she explained. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Receiving her fifth-degree black belt on Tuesday night was a "real honour" for Lampi, who has worked toward the goal for 21 years.
“I felt proud and happy,” she said. “It was exciting and an awesome achievement.”
According to officials from the Down Syndrome Association of Simcoe County, Lampi may be only the second or third person in North America, if not the world, with Down syndrome to have earned a fifth-degree black belt.
“I’m proud of that,” she told OrilliaMatters.
Lampi’s new goal is to work through the 10 black belt ranks to eventually become a Sensei at Blue Dragon Martial Arts in Shanty Bay where she practises twice a week.
“I like to help kids,” she said. “I like teaching them focus, self-defence and exercise.”
Lampi’s parents, Ian and Karen, say they are "extremely proud" of their daughter.
“She is a good example of somebody with difficulties who has been given the opportunity to shine," Ian said. “Even though it’s taken her a little bit longer, and it was a little bit harder for her, she was still able to do it.”
Karen says karate has done wonders for Sara’s fine and gross motor skills as well as balance and strength.
“There are a lot of moves in karate that Sarah is actually better at than most people,” she said. “She has a lot of flexibility, which partially comes with Down syndrome, but since she’s been training for so long, she has the strength as well.”