O’FALLON – In an ongoing effort to raise awareness and promote inclusion, students at Joseph Arthur Middle School celebrated World Down Syndrome Day on March 21.
For the past five years, Special Education Teacher Megan Leonard has promoted the students to learn about Down Syndrome.
“What we do every year on March 21, because its the triplication of the 21st chromosome, is we celebrate Down Syndrome and try to raise awareness. We discuss what Down Syndrome is and how people with Down Syndrome can be included in our lives and our community,” said Leonard.
“This year we have a great student group that has really done a lot of research. Our art department has created a lot of posters to display all around the school. We’re also giving presentations every half hour.”
One of the speakers was Karrie Brown, a professional model with Down Syndrome who has worked with clothing company Wet Seal and will be working on an upcoming promotion with McDonald’s. Brown told the students about life as a model and all of the interesting and different things she’s been able to do. The stop at Joseph Arthur was one of six Brown made at local schools on World Down Syndrome Day.
Leonard said the students also were signed a form pledging to not use “the R-word” and created a paper chain to show their unified support for Down Syndrome awareness.
“My goal is to get people to recognize and raise awareness with people who don’t know what Down Syndrome is. Because if you don’t know you won’t raise awareness of it. So we’re trying to get people to understand that its very important,” said Antoine Wooten, an eighth grader at Joseph Arthur.
“My goal is to spread the word and let people know how important it is. Maybe some people don’t know how important it is and to teach people that we’re all the same. We’re all the same, but in different ways,” explained Nasim Chelbi, another eighth grade student.