Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Sharing on World Down Syndrome Day
March 21st is appropriately named as World Down Syndrome Day. I'll break down the significance for you - 3/21. Three copies of the twenty-first chromosome that reside in each of our children's genes, as opposed to the two copies found in the typically-developing population.
It is a day observed around the world, to celebrate our loved ones with "designer genes" and to raise awareness of the condition that plays host to many developmental and intellectual delays.
It is a day when we want to bring our children into the spotlight and show that they are people first, sons, daughters, friends, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles. That they are loved. That they are valued.
It's a day for education, to teach others about what Down syndrome is, what it means, how it affects those that have it.
A year or so ago, the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City came out with this amazing video, a teaching tool that is aimed towards students to help them better understand and appreciate their classmates with Down syndrome. Samantha's teacher showed it to her class earlier in the school year during the time they were discussing diversity. I bought a copy of the DVD to donate to her school, asking if they would consider showing it to the entire student population this Friday, World Down Syndrome Day. Her principal said they would. It will be shown in each individual classroom via smartboards that morning, and the teachers have been asked to speak to their students about it afterwards, to invite open discussion. I give many sincere thank yous to DTES for this - I feel very fortunate for the support of the administration and staff.
While Samantha is only the 2nd student with Down syndrome to pass through those halls in the 17+ years of the school's existence (the other was in the first few years), I'm sure she won't be the last. And, as the student population begins their gradual ascent to Middle School, I hope they will take the lessons of understanding, inclusion, patience and acceptance with them, I hope that they will apply it to anyone they may meet in their futures who may be a little different, not just those with Down syndrome. I hope they will share the message, pass it along and enlighten others along the way.
I share my girl with them.
They share her message.