Down Syndrome Awareness Month
It’s almost here! Our favorite month, Down Syndrome Awareness Month, happens in October each year. Bring out the blue and yellow, and the celebrations! Ever since Caleb was little (well, he was 7 months for his first DS Awareness Month!), I’ve tried different ways to help raise awareness. Topics and activities have changed throughout the years, as I’ve learned more, but also as our family and extended family have learned too.
My first attempt at “DS Awareness Month”, along with many others, was social media-based. Sharing information, stories, fun facts and our own family’s journey have been a few things I’ve done. Our first year was all about the basics – facts and information about Down syndrome. There are many sources to pull from, including both the National Down Syndrome Society and National Down Syndrome Congress websites, along with other support groups. Questions that our family and friends had, like “What IS Down syndrome?”, “Are there different types of Ds?”, “How will it impact Caleb?”, and many more were answered on my Facebook Page. I tried to include links to other helpful sites, including those mentioned above.
As we grew – Caleb in age, and us in knowledge – I started to expand the vision a bit by sharing stories of older individuals with Down syndrome and what they were doing. Accomplishments large and small were celebrated – from heading off to college, to swimming across the English Channel, to helping in various volunteer roles. Some of the more notable individuals with Ds that are around today were not so visible 10 years ago! So, some digging was in-order. Doing just that though, opened my eyes to the many individuals out there, living life and enjoying fellowship, participating in their communities and sharing all their gifts and talents.
A few years later, I began sharing our own family’s story. How Caleb progressed from those early days of medical appointments and therapies, to the beginning of his school journey. I included photos and quotes from his teachers and others we knew from our area – church, friends, and even the grocery store 😊
Also big during October are local Buddy Walks, are ours were no exception. We spent many fall days on the sands of Jacksonville Beach with blue and yellow banners, posters and ribbons, celebrating all those in our local group with Down syndrome, and their families. These are such great inclusive opportunities for the community too! Friends, sponsors, volunteers – all get a chance to come out for a day of fun and festivities.
Don’t forget to celebrate at school and/or work if you can! Blue and yellow cookies or cupcakes are always a hit. There are so many great t-shirts out there these days too. Remember to include some information, and even ways that people can get involved by volunteering (or donating!).
In our ten+ years of helping to raise awareness, we’ve been mindful that doing just that also helps to lead to acceptance AND inclusion – all things that we, as parents, should care deeply about. Remember especially that young people out volunteering or just learning more information about those with Down syndrome will soon be out in the workforce, and might be a voice for more inclusive environments there as well. If nothing else, sharing information about Down syndrome is fun! It’s wonderful to see those posts and photos of our beautiful children highlighted throughout the entire month.
So! Consider yourself challenged! Get creative, and Get Ready! October will be here before we know it! #downsyndromeawareness #dsawarenessmonth #theluckyfew