People who are different yet able in unique ways are often alienated by their peers. But for the ten girls who make up The Ladybugs, a Girl Scouts troop in Washington, they’ve found a way to defy stereotypes.

For the past nine years, the childhood friends shared cookies, laughter, a love of ladybugs, and the same genetic condition: Down Syndrome.

Nora, Lillie, Maddie, Sarina, Anjulie, and their fellow troop members were all around five or six years old when their parents recognized the need to create a “safe haven” for their children.

Troop Leader Linda Sauve formed the group along with her daughter, Sarina, and says it’s now a big and wonderful part of their lives

Today, these girls are about to enter adulthood, and their bond is stronger than ever. Some of their favorite activities are sleepovers, crafts, and dancing. Like other groups of friends, they don’t necessarily share everything in common. But Linda says it’s been an incredible experience for them to be around others like themselves.

“Having that common thread doesn’t mean that they’re all alike, by any means,” Linda said. “They’re all unique individuals. But having that extra chromosome gives us all a common thread.”

“People, if you have Down syndrome, that’s cool. You get to do cool activities!” Sarina said.

“What I like about Girl Scouts is that your friends are there for you,” another troop member added.

Everyone should be so lucky to find a group of friends as supportive and loving as the Ladybugs! Here’s to many more fun-filled years friendship for these girls, wherever life may take them. We have a good feeling that the Lady Bugs will be just as close decades from now.

You can learn about what inspired Linda and Sarina to form the troop in the video below. Be sure to share and show your support for these sweet young ladies.