The Up Side of Downs

This month for Fox 8 Cleveland’s Own, Matt Kaulig had the opportunity to sit down with Toni Mullee, Executive Director of The Up Side of Downs.

Its mission is to provide support, education, and advocacy for individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and communities.

The Up Side of Downs serves more than 1,000 families in more than 16 communities through support services, education, life skills, and more.

He also had a wonderful conversation with Sarah Platt–one of the many served by The Up Side of Downs–about her business “Just Beachy” where she sells art and jewelry created from artifacts she finds on the beaches of Kelleys Island.

Fox 8 Cleveland’s Own

Fox 8 Cleveland’s Own is about good people doing good work in Northeast Ohio. WJW Fox 8 and Kaulig Charitable Giving Programs team up to celebrate Cleveland’s Own by highlighting the best of our region in a big way! Each month, Fox 8’s Stefani Schaefer and Kaulig Companies and LeafFilter Executive Chairman Matt Kaulig, share a story about a person or organization from Northeast Ohio doing good work.

To see more Cleveland’s Own stories, or to nominate an organization to be featured, visit Kaulig Giving’s Cleveland’s Own page.

Read the Transcript

Narrator

Each month, Kaulig Giving and Fox 8 will highlight people, organizations and charities making a difference in Northeast Ohio. It's time to celebrate Cleveland's Own.

Matt Kaulig

Hi, I'm Matt Kaulig, and I'm excited to introduce The Up Side of Downs, a nonprofit organization that serves those with down syndrome and empowers them to reach their full potential.

Matt Kaulig

Hi, Toni!

Toni Mullee

Hi!

Matt Kaulig

I'm really excited to be here today. So tell me about your organization. What's The Up Side of Downs all about?

Toni Mullee

So, The Up Side of Downs provides support, education and advocacy for people with down syndrome, their families and communities. We serve over a thousand families in 16 counties in Northeast Ohio, and our programming really runs the gamut. We have a lot of support programs for our families, for moms, dads, grandparents, siblings. We do a lot of education, as well as life skills and employment skills for adults. And one of the biggest things that we do is advocacy. So we want to raise awareness about the abilities of individuals with down syndrome. One of the ways we do that is with our Artful 21 store, and we sell items made by twenty nine artisans with down syndrome.

Matt Kaulig

So, Toni, how can people get involved in The Up Side of Downs or how can they help?

Toni Mullee

So there are a variety of ways that people can get involved. We are of course, dealing with covid-19. So most of our programs are virtual right now, but we still need some help. We send packets to families that are participating in our education programs. And of course, when things open up, we'll have many, many opportunities for volunteers to participate. People can certainly donate to The Up Side of Downs. We are funded 100 percent by private donations.

Matt Kaulig

All right.

Toni Mullee

And one of the best ways that people can support our mission is to shop at Artful 21.

Matt Kaulig

Hi, Sarah!

Sarah Platt

Hi!

Matt Kaulig

It's great to talk to you and it's great to meet you. And I've spent a lot of time with you today, and we both have something really big in common. We're both successful entrepreneurs and business owners. So tell me about your business. Just Beachy.

Sarah Platt

I sell necklaces. I sell pottery pieces. I sell fossils. I also sell rocks, sell picture frames. And my family and I look for it at Kelley's Island and other beaches as well.

Matt Kaulig

OK, so that's why it's called Just Beachy, because you get the, what do you get the shells and everything from the beach?

Sarah Platt

Yeah!

Matt Kaulig

At Kelleys Island?

Sarah Platt

Yes. And also other beaches too. Is it really a fun business, it's really successful. I have an active Instagram account, which is @sarahlovebeachglass.

Matt Kaulig

So do you actually sell on Instagram?

Sarah Platt

Yes, I actually do.

Matt Kaulig

That's awesome! So, Sarah, what brings you the most joy of being part of a thoughtful twenty one and The Up Side of Downs?

Sarah Platt

I like the joy of acceptance and inclusion, because inclusion matters. And I also like the Buddy Walk.

Matt Kaulig

So what is the Buddy Walk?

Sarah Platt

So Buddy Walk is in the city of Cleveland. We do it in the Cleveland Zoo. Over 5000 participants always participate and it is a fun organization that brings acceptance. And I love making new friends as well!

Matt Kaulig

So, Sarah, you've got a couple pieces from Just Beachy that you've made. So, tell me about what you're holding.

Sarah Platt

This is a picture frame of a tree that I just did last night.

Matt Kaulig

And then you also have a necklace there.

Sarah Platt

This is a necklace that I made from Kelleys Island.

Matt Kaulig

Is that a stone?

Sarah Platt

Yes,

Matt Kaulig

Beautiful!

Sarah Platt

And I'm getting a lot of girls who are really like my necklaces. And there was a couple people from work, actually, bought my necklaces from here.

Matt Kaulig

Well, I'm going to buy a couple of them from you, because I love them!

Sarah Platt

Awesome!

Matt Kaulig

To learn more about The Up Side of Downs, go to theupsideofdowns.org and to nominate a person or organization to be featured on an upcoming episode of Cleveland's Own visit kauliggiving.com/clevelandsown
Make it a great day!