Many of you might not know that October is National Down Syndrome Awareness month – it’s a month geared toward improving the quality of life of those in our community with Down syndrome. Last year around this time I wrote about my nephew who has Down syndrome – an amazing 5-year-old boy who just started kindergarten this year.
Now I might be partial, but I think anyone who is lucky enough to know him knows how…well…perfect he is. He’s just as perfect as his sister and just as perfect as his cousins. He’s perfectly smart, perfectly hilarious, perfectly mischievous, and perfectly lovable. He has perfectly good days and perfectly bad days. Just like my kids. Just like your kids.
And since it’s October and National Down Syndrome Awareness month, it’s the perfect opportunity to make sure our kids learn how to treat all of those in our community with equal respect (excerpt from last year’s post “How do we teach our kids to respect the disabled?”):
All it takes is making eye contact and greeting the bagger at Harris Teeter with Down Syndrome. Giving a fist bump to the disabled teen who buses the tables at Chick-fil-A. Stopping your car to let the disabled man cross the street.
All you have to do is remember each one of them is someone’s son or daughter whose mother’s one wish is for her child to be treated like a human being – now and into adulthood.
A perfect way to involve the kids is to participate in one (or both!) of the events hosted over the next couple of months by Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte (DSAGC). Its annual Buddy Walk in Freedom Park is this Saturday, October 5, from 2pm-6 pm. The group’s goal each year for this fun, family event is to “promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome” – attend one walk and you’ll be hooked. Seeing the love from families and friends and the pride that comes from the adults and children with Down syndrome is absolutely inspiring.
The DSAGC is also hosting the newest 5k in town – on November 9 the 3-2-1 Dash for Down Syndrome 5k will be held in Blakeney. It’s another one of the ways the organization is fulfilling their mission to enhance the quality of life for all individuals with Down syndrome.
The 5k benefits Research for Down Syndrome and will be a HUGE family event. The race will include a extra “Dash” for Down syndrome – it will be .11 miles longer than a normal 5k (3.21 miles instead of 3.1 miles) to signify the third copy of the 21st chromosome that marks Down syndrome. Competitive runners relax: an official 5k time will be posted – the extra .11 miles is purely for fun and support.
Event organizer Conni Branscom and her team have been working HARD for a year preparing for the 5k. I spoke with her recently and let me tell you: she is A-MAZ-ING. She’s a mother of four children ages 11, 9, 8, and 5 and works full time at Hawk Ridge Elementary School as a personal needs assistant.
Her nine-year-old son, Kyle, has Down syndrome – he’s a third grader at Elon Park who plays flag football and basketball. He loves to swim, play the Wii, and his fave food is pizza – sounds just like one of your kids, right? Conni and her husband make sure that “special” isn’t in their vocabulary – Kyle is equal to their other three children – he might need a little extra attention here and there, but he is treated like his brother and sisters (of course!).
DSAGC hopes to make this an annual event – next year it will be held in March to coincide with World Down Syndrome Awareness Month. We wish you tons of luck in your inaugural event, DSAGC!
We’ll see you there!