At Green River Area Down Syndrome Association the motto is more alike than different. On Thursday, that motto will be on display all over the community, as individuals and organizations partner with GRADSA to bring awareness and positive attention to those with an extra chromosome by donning silly socks.
March 21 marks the day each year when men and women around the world raise one united voice in the fight for inclusion and awareness for their friends and loved ones with Down Syndrome. This year, GRADSA is joining in that vision, bringing the message of inclusion and awareness to Owensboro. GRADSA adults will be sporting their socks and volunteering all over the community to showcase their diverse skills and abilities.
Thursday marks a one-day celebration including community service, lots of pictures, a meal served by GRADSA adults enrolled in the organization’s cooking program and the launching of the organizations brand new “I’M ABLE” campaign. All of this will be done on 3/21, a date that was chosen as World Down Syndrome Day by the United Nations as a nod to the chromosomal anomaly trisomy 21 which causes Down Syndrome.
Trisomy 21 is a unique anomaly in which three chromosomes are inherited by a child in the ‘21 position’ at conception. Tiffany Thrash, Executive Director of GRADSA, said Thursday will not only be a day of raising awareness, but also a day of celebration for these individuals. Thrash hopes to portray a message of empowerment and education to the community.
“What I truly wish more people knew about people with Down Syndrome is that they are people,” Thrash said. “They are beautiful, unique and capable. They love. They are amazing and loyal friends, and they are benefits to our world. [World Down Syndrome Day exists] to show that Down Syndrome does not define anyone. It, in fact, enhances them as well as everyone around them. Down Syndrome is not a defect. It makes those we love extra-ordinary and makes our lives extra special simply because our hearts have been touched by them.”
Rock Your Socks was started in conjunction with World Down Syndrome Day by John Conlin, a man with Down Syndrome. Conlin has a love for wearing crazy socks and a heart for making people smile. As he set out to wear his socks and make others smile, he unintentionally started a worldwide movement that caught on globally as a fun way to show support.
Tiffany Thrash said she has been cultivating interest in Rock Your Socks right here in Owensboro for the last week. The response from local businesses and schools has been fantastic.
“After announcing our rock your socks Owensboro campaign this past Thursday, we’ve had 17 schools, 2 colleges and 18 businesses in the Owensboro area commit to wearing crazy socks in support of World Dowen Syndrome Day,” Thrash said. “It’s gone viral in Owensboro, and I’m so excited to see how many more get involved. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together, and when it becomes visible, that’s amazing.”
To get involved with Rock Your Socks, connect with GRADSA on Facebook or Instagram. Thrash says to be sure and take pictures with your friends, family, and co-workers wearing your silly socks.
Pictures will be featured from all over the community on their social media accounts as well as on Owensboro Times.