Saturday, March 22, 2014

World Down Syndrome Day

Our first WDSD has come and gone. It was emotional, happy, warming, educational, positive....and so much more! Bottom line,it was the best day ever.

I don't think I was prepared to walk into school yesterday. I mean, yes, I planned WDSD for the district and knew that it was going to happen, I just never stopped to think what it might look and feel like to me. It was amazing. I know that to some people it might have just been picking out a blue or yellow shirt in the morning instead of the black one, or putting on a pair of crazy socks instead of plain ones. No big deal.. right? Wrong. It was a huge deal to me. To see all these wonderful people I work with, and the students, walking around with blue and yellow made my heart warm. I had a permanent smile all day from all the support and love. I received pictures, SO many pictures, on my phone of how friends and family were celebrating WDSD. I am not going to lie... I cried. But, they were happy tears!
The only picture I managed to snap of staff wearing yellow and blue!

Each school in the district added their own flair to the day. The high school that Joe works at did a bake sale to raise money for Beautiful Beginnings (which... side note... I have some amazing news about! But I will save that for later!). Some  of the district wore crazy socks for the "rock your socks" campaign. Honestly, I didn't care how anyone celebrated. It was just the fact that there was celebration going on at all that made me so happy. Down syndrome was recognized yesterday, and it was recognized in a big way!
Bake sale! 

Rock your socks!

I think my favorite part was teaching the kids. If you read my post from earlier this week, I created a few mini lessons to help teachers educate their class on Down syndrome. I am a daily substitute at the school I work for, so I do not always know what room I am going to be in. Yesterday, I was in for a second grade teacher. I was so excited to teach the kids all about Down syndrome. I started the discussion at morning meeting. I asked the kids simply if they knew why they were wearing blue and yellow today. I had to laugh at the response I got.

student 1: "It's because of cancer."
Me: "No, not cancer. Anyone else know?"
student 2: "It's for the needy kids, like if they need money."
Me: "Nope, nice try, but not for the poor either."
student 3: "It's for autism."
Me: "Okay, well while that is the closest answer, it is still not right."

Needless to say, they had no idea that they were wearing blue and yellow for Down syndrome. I don't know if that should have made me sad, but it didn't. I was just excited to be the one to teach them all about Down syndrome. I was working with a blank slate, and that was perfect for me.

I told them all about Anthony. The kids ate up everything I said. They were so interested in our discussion and wanted to learn everything about Down syndrome. They made connections to my story, and had questions galore. I loved it.

Then I showed them the video about Down syndrome that I wrote about in my last post. I stood back, and watched the students as they took it all in. Their eyes were glued to the Smart Board. After the video we talked about it some more. We also talked about our differences and how because we are all different it makes the world such an amazing and interesting place. They really did learn a lot, and I'm not saying that just because I was the one teaching them. Ha! 

At the end of the day, I did the marshmallow activity with them. They were so excited to get to eat the marshmallows at the end, and I was excited to see if they were going to learn anything from it. I told them that although it might be a silly activity because they have to try to talk with a marshmallow in their mouth, it actually was serious. At the end, we discussed how they felt and how difficult it was to not be understood. Some of the students got what I was trying to teach, and some didn't get much deeper than the marshmallow, ha! Oh well, as long as it reached even just one student, it was worth it!

Me: How did it make you feel? Was it hard to talk with the marshmallow? Could you understand your friend? 
Student 1: "Yes it was so hard! I was embarrassed."
Student 2: "Well, my teeth felt cold from the marshmallow."
Student 3: "Yeah it was hard because a marshmallow was in my mouth and I wanted to eat it but I wasn't allowed yet."
Student 4: "I wanted to say stuff but it was hard to move my mouth to get the words out."

Me: Knowing how you felt after doing that activity, how might you do things differently when you meet someone that has a hard time talking?
Student 1: "I kind of already did that right now Mrs. Mango."
Me: "Yeah? How?"
Student 1: "Well my friend was trying to tell me about her favorite character from Frozen and I couldn't understand her. So, I asked her to say it slower. I still couldn't understand so I repeated what I thought I heard and asked her if that is what she said."

Wow! Amazing!

Anthony came to both of our schools to say hi and thank everyone for their support! 

I hope everyone had a great WDSD! Thank you for celebrating with us, and for spreading awareness! It really did make a big difference! Next year lets try to reach even more people!

1 comment:

  1. Very nice! Here in Brazil we had some events as well! It was really nice many iniciatives about the syndrome! Lots of information about it on television! Lots of love!!