By Jim Newell
World Down Syndrome Day, March 21, is a day of fun at Paint Creek Elementary, a day where the students get to wear their most colorful and outlandish socks, express their individuality and compare their funky socks with their friends.
But it’s not lost on the staff and students that it’s also a day to celebrate the inclusion of others who may be different, something the students at Paint Creek live with every day.
Principal Lauren Smith, who has been at Paint Creek for 12 years now, said the school houses the district’s CI (Cognitive Impaired) and EI (Emotionally Impaired) programs.
“All of our students at Paint Creek Elementary are special. Everyone has unique talents and special attributes that they share with our teachers and their peers every day. March 21, World Down Syndrome Day, is a day to celebrate our students and families who are touched by Down Syndrome,” Smith said.
Just like everyone, individuals with Down Syndrome have two copies of each of their 23 chromosomes but they have third copy of chromosome 21, a genetic condition known as trisomy 21, hence the celebration on March 21, or 3-21.
“At Paint Creek Elementary we have many students who have identified disabilities however, that is not what defines them. They are defined by their amazing personalities, desire to learn and what they so generously give to our students and staff each day. We are excited to show our support for those touched by Down Syndrome but also show our appreciation for every single person who let their differences shine!” Smith said.
CI teachers Catherine Anderson and Jennifer Myszenski planned the Rock Your Sock day activities and said the students love celebrating World Down Syndrome Day and showing support for one another.
“Paint Creek is celebrating because we think every individual is special and we just want to point out how we all stand out. So, Rock Your Socks is just a really fun way to remind everyone that they are important to us,” said Anderson, who works with the school’s special needs students.
“The kids get very excited. They can’t wait to show off their socks and wear all the different pairs and see what their friends are wearing. So, it’s pretty exciting,” said CI teacher Jennifer Myszenski. “It’s also a nice way to break up the middle of March.”
World Down Syndrome Day is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012.
By Jim Newell