“Raising awareness is how acceptance begins”
– my friend Anna –
This year, on March 21, World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), something significant happened. A whole lot of people, seemingly unconnected to each other, stood together in support of my son Jake. They did this by wearing socks. Lots of socks. And in so doing, they showed their solidarity, they raised awareness, and they made our family feel over-the-top loved, supported, and encouraged.
I wanted to share two quick stories coming out of WDSD. Both stories illustrate to me the impact that the “Lots of Socks” campaign to raise awareness for Down syndrome had in peoples’ lives. Both stories are a testament to the widespread repercussions that something as simple as wearing socks can produce. Both stories are incredibly meaningful to me, and touched our family deeply.
The first story is this:
I have two nephews who are in school; one in Grade 1, and one in Grade 3. Both of these boys went to school on March 21 wearing their socks, and carrying a picture of their cousin. Both of these boys had the courage to do a presentation in front of their entire class, holding up the picture of Jake, explaining what they were celebrating with their crazy socks, and raising awareness in their classrooms. Both of these boys love Jake so much that they desired to act, and in so doing, they each taught over 20 of their peers about inclusion, acceptance, and love.
The second story goes like this:
I have a friend who is a teacher. She wrote to me a few weeks ago, asking if she could read this blog post of mine in her class. After WDSD, I found out that her class had fallen in love with Jake after reading about him and seeing pictures of him on my blog. They read several of my blog posts, including the one where I talked about tie-dying socks for WDSD. They convinced my friend to tie-dye socks as a class, so that they could all stand in support of Jake. And when, like me, their socks did not turn out properly, they all decided to wear their own crazy socks from home to school on March 21. Not all of them made it into the picture, but I think it is so amazing that this class of kids who don’t know Jake were, in the words of my teacher friend, “quite smitten” by him, and are very excited for the opportunity to get to meet Jake in person someday soon:)
There are those within the blogging world who were violently opposed to WDSD’s theme “Lots of Socks”. There are those who believe that raising awareness is a waste of time, and that advocacy should be our only pursuit. There are those who believe that putting on socks accomplishes nothing.
To those individuals, I say “I respectfully disagree”.
Because, as my friend Anna put it, “Raising awareness is how acceptance begins”. This WDSD, we raised awareness. We showed solidarity. We stood side-by-side in support of Jake, and other individuals with Down syndrome. And we had a great time doing it! For those of you who supported us by wearing socks, by raising awareness, by teaching others, by emails, phone calls, texts, and facebook messages, by the gift of flowers, and just through your love and friendship on an ongoing basis, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. We love you and feel so grateful for your role in our lives.