There are many things in life we celebrate: birthdays, anniversaries, milestones, promotions – I mean there is pretty much a holiday every day if you look hard enough. However, one of my new favorite holidays is 3/21: World Down Syndrome Day. Being a relatively “new” mom to an amazing little girl with Down syndrome, I quickly became the best advocate I could be for her and found a new role in talking, educating, and including others about all the wonderful things Addi has given us and our community. While we do this year-round, World Down Syndrome Day gives us the opportunity to shout a little louder. And, because I’m just a little extra myself, you know I have to celebrate just a little bit more.
As we did last year, we decided to do another t-shirt fundraiser to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day this year. We partnered with a Down syndrome apparel company called A Lil Something Extra to make 3/21 t-shirts. Like last year, we had a portion of the proceeds go to GiGi’s Playhouse and this year proceeds went to Ruby’s Rainbow a non-profit that provides educational scholarships for individuals with Down syndrome to go to college.
We also wanted to do more in the community. This year, we had the opportunity to go and speak to a couple elementary classrooms about Down syndrome and celebrate what makes us unique – our differences, our similarities, and our “extras”. We did activities with the kids to demonstrate what it’s like when we have to work extra hard at certain tasks like putting a puzzle together with socks over your hands to represent fine motor skills or, having a conversation with marshmallows in your mouth to represent speech and how we know what we want to say, but sometimes it can be hard to understand. The kids took the pledge to end the “R” word as we discussed the importance of inclusion and not using the “R” word.
On the big day, we had cookies and cake balls that were made to send out around town. We took them to Addi’s daycare along with little fact sheets tied to them about Down syndrome. They talked about how everyone is special in their own way and, no matter what your “extra” is, to celebrate it because that is what makes you who you are. We made deliveries to our therapy offices, places of work, and shops around town. We rocked our crazy socks. We participated in helping another mom with her project of thank yous and pictures to the nurses and staff at Blank’s NICU. We also came and celebrated 3/21 at GiGi’s Playhouse where we always love to be. It was so nice to not only see our good friends and families from the 2 and under program, but to connect with other families of older children that we may not see that often.
Being a part of this amazing community has been such a humbling experience for us. The love and genuine support that everyone has is amazing to watch. World Down Syndrome Day is a day for us (like many others) to shout their worth, show how amazing our loved ones are, educate the community on the many benefits of having individuals with varying abilities in your life, to remember to be kind, and to celebrate who YOU are!