By: Terry Simpson
Crazy socks everywhere!
Tompkinsville Elementary students Brayden Fox and Jayden Payne received quite the reception at Tompkinsville Elementary on Thursday, March 21, when they walked into their school to see their peers and teachers decked out in blues and yellows and wearing mismatched socks.
Kindergartener Brayden Fox is the son of Nathan and Leslie Fox and brother to Briley and Bryson, while Preschooler Jayden Payne is the daughter of Jennifer Brown and the sister to Michael and Brantley. Both are “down” right awesome and were diagnosed with Down Sydrome, and go to school at TES.
Smiles, high fives and hugs were passed around as the children glowed as bright as those yellow shirts at the love and affection waiting on them as their school celebrated “Down Syndrome Day” with them.
Their teachers noted that Brayden and Jayden seemed to love school every day, but this particular day was special.
Every year on March 21, World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated. This date was chosen because it is the 21st day of the third month, which signifies the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome, which is what causes Down Syndrome.
The chromosomal disorder is caused when an error in cell division results in an extra 21st chromosome during a baby’s development. Impairments in cognitive ability and physical growth, mild to moderate developmental disabilities, and a higher risk of some health problems occur in those with the syndrome. Approximately one in every 700 babies in the United States is born with Down Syndrome, making it the most common chromosomal condition.
The national day is led by Down Syndrome International, which has partnered with charities across the world raising awareness and support. It also shows what it is like to have Down Syndrome and how those with it play a vital role in our communities.
This year, the theme for the day was “Leave No-One Behind,” which hopes to show the world that every single person with Down’s syndrome should have the same opportunities as everyone else, in every area of life.
The colors for Down Syndrome awareness are blue and yellow and the tradition of wearing mismatched socks came from the chromosomes themselves, which are shaped almost like socks.
Tompkinsville Elementary, along with many in the rest of the world, celebrated the day on Thursday, hoping to make others aware of the abilities and accomplishments of those with Down Syndrome including their very special friends, Jayden and Brayden.
The day is not about celebrating disabilities, but celebrating abilities — or as Tompkinsvile Elementary Library Media Specialist Amanda Carter puts it, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out,” a favorite quote by Dr. Seuss.
She explains, “The day was so special because we celebrated these two individuals and helped raise awareness by showing a video to our students about what it means to have Down Syndrome. It’s great to have a day set aside to bring awareness to everyone!”
That plan seemed to be quite a success as the bright colors and crazy sock idea spread quickly throughout the community, with Tompkinsville Elementary being only the start. Students could not be more proud as they posed for pictures with their friends throughout the day, showing off the colors, socks and even specially made t shirts proclaiming quotes such as “Down Right Awesome” and “Nothing Down About It.”
And what were Brayden’s thoughts on the day? According to his mom Leslie, “He is normally the star of the show. He loves being the center of everyone’s attention. I think he enjoyed all the hugs and high fives the most!”
In October, Down Syndrome Awareness Month will be celebrated with many other celebrations and fundraisers.
For more information on Down Syndrome Awareness or ways to become involved, you can visit the Down Syndrome of South Central Kentucky Facebook page located at https://www.facebook.com/downsyndromeofsouthcentralkentucky/.