October is National Down Syndrome Awareness month. During that month we do a lot of promotional activities and fundraisers. Many Buddy Walks and Step-up Walks are held around the country and globe to raise money, but just as importantly and maybe more so to raise awareness of the abilities of those with Down syndrome. A few years ago March 21 was designated as World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD). Makes sense and it would really make more sense for Down Syndrome Awareness Month to be in March, too. Why? Well, WDSD is 3-21 every year because Down syndrome is caused by the addition of that third copy of the 21st chromosome. Most of us only get two chromosomes but our friends with Down syndrome get a third 21st chromosome. That’s as far as my science lesson is up for this am.
In recent years, people and groups around the world have launched awareness activities for World Down Syndrome Day. Some are a little controversial but all are well-intentioned. Whether it’s rock my socks by wearing mismatched socks or programs in schools or a fundraiser, we are promoting awareness of the abilities of people with Down syndrome. This year I am excited that most of our national organizations (National Down Syndrome Society, LuMind Foundation, International Down Syndrome Coalition- IDSC, National Down Syndrome Congress, Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action and International Mosaic Down Syndrome Association) have joined forces and the Empire State Building will be shining blue and yellow in honor of #WDSD2015!
These same groups have united for an additional awareness and celebration event to promote Random Acts of Kindness for #WDSD2015. It’s easy to do. You just choose something to help spread love and kindness in honor of everyone with Down syndrome. Rachel and I decided we wanted to donate a book to her former elementary school. Since our school is on spring break the week before #WDSD2015 and Rachel is having ear surgery next week, we decided to go this week and do our Random Act of Kindness!
We’ve donated books to the school, Down syndrome organizations, the public library, the district special education library, hospitals, other healthcare providers and the high school. Some are to educate children while others are more technical and are geared toward professionals. We’ve also donated copies of Just Like You – Down Syndrome. In fact, Rachel and Savanna will be speaking at a local middle school later this afternoon. They are doing an abbreviated version of their Social Inclusion presentation and then showing JLY for a school wellness program. More Down syndrome awareness we say. Back to the books though. When Rachel and Savanna did this original presentation in Maryland back in October, we met some great people. One person we met was Christina Grimes. She shared with us a book that she authored about her daughter. We read it and loved the beautiful pictures.
The book, “Together We Can Do Anything” tells the story of Christina’s daughter who was born with Down syndrome.
The real pictures are a definite benefit for this book. Often people are looking for pictures of real people. This is true when someone gets a diagnosis and when children are learning.
And I hate to say it, but sometimes the internet does not pull up the most flattering pictures. These pictures show kids doing life and loving life. The explanations are simple but complete. Something I really liked, especially for those with siblings, is the section at the back that features testimonials from siblings of individuals with Down syndrome. I think it is another good book to add to any library! Rachel was very excited to be able to present a copy to Mrs. Veatch who was her elementary principal.
The hard copy book is available from Amazon and if you click on the book title above it will take you there. Thanks Christina and Madison for sharing this book with us.
Whether you have a child with Down syndrome, love someone with Down syndrome or want to learn more about Down syndrome, you too can be a part. Check out any of the links to the national organizations above to learn how you can be a part. Maybe you just want to donate to one of these organizations or you’d like to find a local group. They can direct you. It’s just a great opportunity for us to celebrate the lives of all the Rachel’s out there!
Happy World Down Syndrome Day 2015!
*Savanna is Rachel’s friend who is also featured in the Just Like You – Down Syndrome video. Sometimes both girls are invited to give presentations.