Cheering for The Awareness of World Down Syndrome Day
If you see an unusual number of people wearing wacky or mismatched socks today, it’s because they are rocking their socks in honor of World Down Syndrome Day.
The day of awareness is recognized each year on March 21, meant to represent the occurrence of a third copy of the 21st chromosome that results in Down syndrome.
The symbolism of socks at the event is to illustrate the beauty of diversity, said Natalie Eckberg, Fund Development Officer for the Paso del Norte Children’s Development Center, a nonprofit serving children with special needs and their families. At the Center, services include childcare, parent education, respite care, pediatric therapy and more.
“We are asking members of the community to join us,” said Eckberg. “Our goal is to bring the community together to celebrate what we consider to be a day of acceptance and inclusion. People with Down Syndrome can bring so much to the community. As a society, it is up to us to showcase their abilities and create meaningful opportunities for these individuals.”
Belinda Walker, whose 4-year-old daughter Sara was diagnosed with Down Syndrome while in utero, agrees. Sara attends the Paso del Norte Children’s Development Center daycare center El Papalote and receives speech language pathology services through the Center.
“People with Down Syndrome are not any different than you or me,” said Walker. “They want to be accepted and loved and treated no differently. They can do anything. Sara can do anything she can put her mind to. And that’s typical of children with Down Syndrome. They just want to succeed.”
When talking about her daughter, Walker prefers to focus on her daughter’s progress, abilities and what makes her especially adorable, just like any parent.
“You can tell when she walks in a room how special she is,” Walker said. “People stare at her, but not because she has Down Syndrome. But because she is beautiful. We take her to a restaurant and people stop us to tell her how precious she is. And we say: ‘Yes, she is. She’s a handful, but she is.’ And yet we would do it all over again.”
The Walker family plans to wear their own crazy socks, just as they have for the past four years.
“We have photos from each year of our feet in the socks,” said Walker, who is also involved with the Down Syndrome Coalition of El Paso and Gigi’s Playhouse. “We love doing it. The point of the day is to spread awareness about acceptance and inclusion for people with Down Syndrome. Her father and I have t-shirts that say: ‘We wouldn’t change you for the world, but we will change the world for you.’ And we are going to keep working towards that. Because that’s what Sara and all other people with Down Syndrome deserve – a better world.”
For more information, visit pdnchildrens.org.