March 21st isWorld Down Syndrome Day and I am absolutely in love with this year’s theme: “leave no one behind.” This day of global awareness is celebrated as a time to advocate for the inclusion of people with Down syndrome. Here’s how you can help individuals with Down syndrome S.O.A.R.
- Support your local Down syndrome organization with a donation or your talents. Your gifts help sustain a multitude of activities geared towards individuals and families of all ages. There are camps, seminars for parents, support for self-advocates and more.
- Offer your time and talent. Organizations and schools that cater to individuals with Down syndrome always need volunteers. Local students from area schools support Catherine’s school on a weekly basis and volunteer their time in a number of areas. A few years ago, I spent time with a mom and her daughters at the annual fall carnival. The time was rewarding for both of us as she learned about the ins and outs of our life with Catherine. I enjoyed talking with her and meeting her daughters. More importantly, they grew to understand more about special needs families.
- Acknowledge their presence! Don’t overlook an individual with Down syndrome when you see them. A few months ago, we went out for family dinner. The server took one look at Catherine, turned to me and asked “what is she having?” I gently turned to her and asked her to “please ask Catherine.” She followed my directive with hesitation. I later explained that we support Catherine’s independence and this is a great way for her to grow. In the end, I believe she walked away with a different perspective.
- Recruit for employment. If you own a business and have opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome, reach out to them and offer a job. A number of businesses partner with Catherine’s school and offer older students the opportunity to gain work experience. This supports them as they move to the next phase of life and strive for independence.
We want the best for Catherine just as any other parents would want for their child. In our home, she is not left behind. We only ask that you think about ways you can help others like Catherine S.O.A.R!