District Five schools observe World Down Syndrome Day
IRMO – March 21 was World Down Syndrome Day, and in School District Five students and staff observed the day with “random acts of kindness,” presentations and celebrations.
At Chapin Elementary School, students in Brooke Bridges’ kindergarten class shared books on inclusion and acceptance and presented information they researched on Down syndrome. Several students also wore mismatched socks, a gesture adopted worldwide to raise awareness about the condition and the important roles people with Down syndrome play in communities.
“Our students and parents were amazing and really made this day a special one, not only for their classmate for Down syndrome but for our whole school community,” Bridges said. “Our goal was to create a space where students could learn and appreciate the differences that exist in people in our community and build compassion and understanding. They know that children with Down syndrome are just like them: kids. They want to play, and learn, and make friends. Our students Rocked their Socks, displayed kindness and let our special guests know just how much they’ve learned about Down syndrome….I’m so proud of the students.”
World Down Syndrome Day is annually observed on March 21 because the date symbolizes the three copies of the 21st chromosome, the genetic anomaly that leads to Down syndrome. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly one in every 700 babies in the United States is born with the condition. Other schools observing the day included Harbison West Elementary, Nursery Road Elementary and Seven Oaks Elementary schools.
Chapin Elementary School Kindergartener Madelyn is part of Mrs. Bridges’ immersion classroom, which places some special needs students in classrooms with students in the general population. Her mother says, both the immersion class and World Down Syndrome Day has made a lasting impact on Madelyn.
“She’s grown so much in this class in math, reading… every area, she has grown,” Kayla Garrett said, during the class’s World Down Syndrome Day event. “The love and support she gets from her classmates means so much. I want everyone to know that children with Down syndrome are just like any other child. They want to play, they laugh… they are just like any other child.”
School District Five Board Vice Chair Beth Hutchison, who has a niece in Bridges’ classroom, participated in Chapin Elementary’s World Down Syndrome Day observance along with other district officials, community members and principals.
“Chairman Gantt and I were blown away by what we saw,” Hutchison said. “I thought it was a great lesson on character development and the importance of kindness. In School District Five, we focus on developing our students to be good people when they leave…And I was just so proud of the teachers for creating this opportunity and the students for their work in observing World Down syndrome day. Good job, all!”