Rockin' the Socks: Celebrating World Down Syndrome Day
Waterloo Wellington Down Syndrome Society Invites You to #RockYourSocks on Sunday, March 21!
By: Emily Shaw
World Down Syndrome Day occurs every year on March 21, 3/21, to celebrate the third multiplication of the 21st chromosome.
KidsAbility talks with Arisa Alexanian, a volunteer for Waterloo Wellington Down Syndrome Society (WWDSS), about her work with the society and how everyone can show their support for the event.
WWDSS is a community of parents and families who advocate for people with Down syndrome. It’s a space where families can openly ask questions to other parents who have children with Down syndrome.
“It’s a phenomenal parent, individual, and family support network for a lot of families. I think they do a great job of educating the general public about who and what we are and the great abilities our kids have,” Alexanian says.
Every year, WWDSS promotes the event “Rock Your Socks” which is an activity that everyone in the family can participate in to raise awareness for Down syndrome.
“We’re trying to find fun ways to raise awareness. It doesn’t matter what age you are, everybody can wear socks. It’s just one of those fun things that everybody can get behind.”
To show your support, throw on a pair of wild, colourful, fun socks and post a picture online with the hashtag #RockYourSocks.
Alexanian was introduced to WWDSS when her son, Michael, was a baby. She connected with other mothers and is glad to be able to talk to people who are able to answer the questions she has about Down syndrome.
She smiles while explaining, “I only have Michael, so a lot of times when he was a toddler, I’d ask the other moms ‘is this a Down syndrome thing or is this just a bratty kid thing?’ and they’d say, ‘no that’s a bratty kid thing’ or ‘no, that’s totally a Down syndrome thing.’ More often than not it was followed by ‘don’t worry, they get through that very quickly.’”
She loves the support and strategies the families give one another, and that the community helps each other learn how to appropriately advocate for their kids.
“No two kids are the same, so you have to learn how to help your child be the best that they can be.”
Michael started going to KidsAbility when he was about nine-months-old. He’s benefited from many therapies and support services at KidsAbility including speech, music, and occupational therapy. Michael also attended KidsAbility School and has participated in camps such as iCan Bike and Arts Express over the years.
He is now in grade nine attending Resurrection Catholic High School and is loving it.
Alexanian says, “It’s been pretty exciting for him. I think the whole shift for COVID was made a bit easier. The transition from elementary school to secondary school can be traumatic for a lot of our kids. With making all the changes for COVID at the same time as starting High School, he doesn’t know any different. So it’s kind of been a blessing.”
He’s enjoying the social interaction and the school has been great about keeping the kids safe. Alexanian does her best to educate people on Down syndrome and advocate for her son, explaining, “It’s really important for him to learn about all the new people he’s dealing with and for them to learn about him. No two children with Down syndrome are the same, just because they have Down syndrome doesn’t mean how they act and learn is the same.”
She adds, “People with Down syndrome are such a big part of our community today. There are wonderful opportunities for people to learn. People are all unique in their own ways. Down syndrome doesn’t define him, it’s what he has, it’s not who he is. He’s Michael first, he’s a person first. It’s not what they are, it’s just what they have.”
For more information about Down Syndrome and how you can participate in this year’s Rock Your Socks event, visit Waterloo Wellington Down Syndrome Society's website or join them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
Emily Shaw is a journalism student at Conestoga College.
As a volunteer with KidsAbility, choosing an organization that she was passionate about to complete her co-op placement made it a natural fit.