Today is World Down Syndrome Day, and the Green River Area Down Syndrome Association (GRADSA) is using it as an opportunity to promote inclusion and togetherness. The organization asks businesses, nonprofits, and individuals alike to rock colorful socks and post their pictures and stories on social media.
GRADSA Executive Director Tiffany Thrash said the socks are an excellent way to portray that even though people’s chromosomes may vary, they are more alike than different. This year’s hashtags are #OwensboroLovesDS and #WDSD2022.
“The socks began as a way to put a smile on people’s faces, and that continues today,” Thrash said. “We encourage everyone to rock their socks and share their personal stories by emailing [email protected] and sharing all celebration pictures on social media using the hashtags.”
Thrash is set to speak at different schools to discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion, the beauty of Down syndrome, and why they celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. One such school is North Hancock Elementary, where principal Kelly More is excited to celebrate.
“She is taking it an extra step by showing students educational videos about Down syndrome and how it’s a benefit to our community,” Thrash said.
She added that she could send the video links to other teachers and principals who would like to share them with their students and staff.
GRADSA’s medical outreach program passed out socks to OB/GYN, NICU, and MFM offices to share in the celebrations. The medical offices will be “rocking their socks” on March 21 and sharing their photos and experiences on social media.
“It’s a circle of trust,” said outreach volunteer Christie Ashby. “We develop relationships with the providers, who then form relationships with parents, give them information, and put them in contact with us. We provide new parents with a care package and answer any questions they have.”
The outreach program exists to create a more positive experience for parents when being informed that their newborn has Down syndrome. The certified outreach program provides local physicians and medical entities with informational materials on presenting a positive diagnosis experience.
“Several years ago, parents were receiving these diagnoses, which carried a negative connotation. Our goal is to change that,” Ashby said. “We’re seeing improved life-expectancy, and we have several members working, playing sports, and more. Having a child with Down syndrome is a great experience, and we want new parents to know and understand that.”