Awareness campaign celebrates World Down Syndrome Day
Part of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma’s mission is to raise awareness and promote acceptance and inclusion. To do this, the organization will kick off a “Knock Your Socks Off” awareness campaign to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day on March 21.
The day represents the third replication of the 21st chromosome, also known as Trisomy 21 or Down syndrome. The organization is asking everyone in the community to wear their favorite pair of crazy socks and to tag DSACO on social media using the hashtag #crazy4DSACO. The idea is to bring the community together on this one day to celebrate what we consider to be a day of acceptance and inclusion. People with Down syndrome bring so much to each community across the world, when given the opportunity.
This year’s awareness event has drawn in many different organizations from across the state. DSACO will host a fundraising luncheon on March 21 where each donor will be given a crazy sock puppet made by volunteers, family members and self-advocates. DSACO has hosted social gatherings the past few months where members came and made crazy sock puppets but were also able to share experiences and get to know other families and volunteers.
4-H members from across the state also helped and made more than 100 sock puppets for the upcoming luncheon. Students at State 4-H Roundup this past summer who participated in the crazy sock puppet workshop were also taught about some truths and myths about Down syndrome. In addition, the Cleveland County 4-H also hosted a crazy sock puppet workshop in conjunction with DSACO’s Elementary Adventure Club.
St. John’s Nepomuk and Curtis Inge Middle School at Noble will also participate in the crazy sock puppet project on March 13 and 14 respectively, all while learning more about Down syndrome. The students participating in the sock puppet project were encouraged to get as creative as possible, making it fun and engaging, while learning about acceptance and inclusion for individuals with Down syndrome.
“Cleveland County 4-H members were eager to partner with DSACO when we heard about their idea to make 'crazy sock puppets' for World Down Syndrome Day luncheon,” said Ruth Allard, Cleveland County OSU Extension 4-H youth development educator. “One of the key parts of the 4-H program is service learning. 4-H members would gather and learn how to make sock puppets while also learning about Down Syndrome and inclusion. 4-H members got to meet some of the DSACO families and work with them to make the sock puppets.
"4-H is open to everyone, so teaching inclusion and awareness is helping us to build the next generation of leaders,” Allard said.
This year, Noble Public Schools has joined with DSACO to create a districtwide awareness campaign where students from Pre-K through high school will attend assemblies to learn about Down syndrome and participate in a “crazy sock hop.” At the “crazy sock hop,” students will dance for three minutes and 21 seconds in recognition of the 21st chromosome. Noble is the first school district to participate in a large awareness campaign such as this to learn more about inclusion and acceptance for individuals with Down syndrome.
Through the “Knock Your Socks Off” awareness campaign, DSACO will reach more than 2,700 students across the entire school district at Noble. The all-inclusive campaign is expected to reach more than 200,000 individuals across the state.
St. John’s Nepomuk will also take part in the awareness campaign where students from Pre-K through eighth grade will attend assemblies and “crazy sock hops.” Our hope is that through this awareness campaign, the students will gain knowledge about Down syndrome but also look for ways to be inclusive in their schools.
“Noble Public Schools is proud to be a partner with the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma in recognizing World Down Syndrome Day,” said Frank Solomon, superintendent of Noble Public Schools. “We believe that all children are special and will always be included in everything we do. Thank You for allowing us to show our support. Go Bears!” said Solomon.
It is encouraging that this year several organizations and schools are participating in this awareness campaign, which will only strengthen and enrich the lives of all children. The classroom is the perfect inclusive environment for students to engage in an activity such as this. It allows them the opportunity to ask questions and learn from others about how they can be inclusive of individuals with Down syndrome.
We all want to be accepted for who we are because being included is what matters most. As the executive director of the organization, I am thrilled that we as an organization are becoming more recognized and that students are learning more about Down syndrome and all the possibilities for individuals. We will continue our mission to promote awareness and strive for inclusion so that everyone can see the person first and not the disability.
So, we ask everyone to grab your favorite pair of crazy socks and join us on this journey as we “Knock Your Socks Off” on World Down Syndrome Day, March 21. #crazy4DSACO #WDSD2019
Sarah Soell is executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma and a mother of a child with Down syndrome.