By Dawn Hatfield
DARKE COUNTY — Students across the county donned the craziest socks possible on Monday — but why?
In December 2011, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 21 as World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) to raise public awareness of Down Syndrome, inviting all member states, as well as civil society, to observe WDSD.
In fact, the entire month of March is designated Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (DDAM) in the United States. Each March, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities and partners work together to create a social media campaign (found at https://www.nacdd.org/ddam1/) that highlights the many ways in which people with and without disabilities come together to form strong, diverse communities. As stated on www.nacdd.org, “The [DDAM] campaign seeks to raise awareness about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all facets of community life, as well as awareness of the barriers that people with disabilities still sometimes face in connecting to the communities in which they live.”
What better way to celebrate inclusion than to start with local children in our community? This is exactly what DarkeDD has been doing over the past week. Individuals with developmental disabilities have been visiting schools across the county, sharing their stories with students, and talking with them about the beauty of kindness and inclusion. As DarkeDD Facebook site put it, “We’re all different and that’s OK….wouldn’t life be boring if we were all alike?”
Now, back to the socks…
NADS or National Association for Down Syndrome explains there are things you can do to learn about Down Syndrome and raise awareness too. Each March 21, you can show your support by wearing brightly colored socks to signify the extra chromosome that people with Down Syndrome usually carry and/or paint your nails blue and yellow in support of raising awareness.
Students all across the county took this message to heart, wearing crazy, mis-matched socks in Ansonia, Arcanum, and Bradford. They didn’t stop there; they practiced their artistic talents by designing their own crazy sock patterns too. Jamie, Julie, and Ashley from DarkeDD had fantastic visits with the children, stating on the DarkeDD website, “We had so much fun with the kiddos in Darke county last week — they really loved coloring the pages and wearing crazy socks for World Down Syndrome Day… Thank you to Arcanum Elementary School and Ansonia Local Schools for your great partnerships… We [also] had so much fun at Bradford with the kiddos! Thank you for helping us spread awareness!”
According to www.un.org, “WDSD is a unique opportunity for the global Down Syndrome community to connect every year, so we can: share ideas, experiences and knowledge; empower each other to advocate for equal rights for people with Down Syndrome; and reach out to key stakeholders to bring about positive change. In doing this, we can get a global conversation going, which will empower people around the world to advocate for full #Inclusion in society for people with Down Syndrome and disabilities, and indeed for everyone.”
Down Syndrome occurs when an individual has an extra partial (or whole) copy of chromosome 21. It is not yet known why this syndrome occurs, but Down Syndrome has always been a part of the human condition. It exists in all regions across the globe and commonly results in variable effects on learning styles, physical characteristics and health. The estimated incidence of Down Syndrome is approximately one in 1,000 live births worldwide. Each year, approximately 3,000 to 5,000 children are born with this chromosomal disorder per www.un.org.
How can you help to get the world talking about World Down Syndrome Day? By wearing lots of socks! But not just any socks… wear brightly colored socks, long socks, printed socks, one sock, even three socks for three chromosomes.
If you missed WDSD this year, don’t worry, it is an annual event, so mark your calendars for March 21, 2023, or you can donate to NADS today by visiting www.nads.org/donations.
#Inclusion #LotsOfSocks #MarchDDAwareness2022 #KindnessMatters
Dawn Hatfield covers education stories for The Daily Advocate. Have a school-related event to share? Reach out by email at [email protected] or by phone at 937-569-0066.