This Sunday (and every 3.21 after it) is a day my laundry pile probably prepares for all year. On this day, I personally will find my craziest socks that probably do not even match one another to recognize those I know with an extra (meaning they have 3 instead of 2) 21st chromosomes. These are my friends who have Down Syndrome.
I am fairly certain my first real experience with someone with a disability was a young man with Down Syndrome in my church. I loved interacting with this young person and realizing even though he looked and sometimes acted a little different than your typical youth member at church, he was like us in so many ways. I have so many memories of our younger days with this young man and his family. Many of us were and are still encouraged by the way this young man loves to sing and pray. I chuckle when I remember how he sometimes would tell his younger siblings how they needed to act right. Fortunately, my experience with people with disability and Down Syndrome did not end there. I was given the opportunity to serve as a P.A. through The STAR Center for another young man with Down Syndrome for several years. This was a life-changing experience as I not only got to see life of someone with a disability as an educator, but I also got to experience a portion of the life of a family with a child with special needs. And let me tell you, this was one of the most normal and fun families you will ever meet. One thing that makes them like the rest of us if not even more extra is their big love for birthdays, concerts, and vacations. Life with someone with Down Syndrome may be challenging at times, but it can also be so rewarding.
Those with Down Syndrome and their families do have challenges most of us will never face, but they also work hard to share in many of the same opportunities the typical population has. Many of those born with Down Syndrome are at a greater risk for certain medical issues, so doctor visits will be more frequent than the average person. Early intervention therapies have been proven beneficial for future success for these individuals. They may need some extra supports in education and in employment, but there is something they need even more. People with Down Syndrome and other disabilities need a chance and opportunities. They need opportunities to grow and succeed. They need opportunities to discover their talents and gifts. They need a chance to further their education and their employment opportunities.
And one more thing they need. They need you to Rock Your SOCKS in recognition of World Down Syndrome Day on 3.21. And if you want to get involved on a local level, visit our friends of the Down Syndrome Association of West Tennessee.