To My Son’s School on World Down Syndrome Day

Written by Victoria Vila

March 21, 2019

World Down Syndrome Day

Dear 4th Grade Scholars:

Today, Thursday March 21, is the day when people around the world advocate for the acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome – like Nino — in every part of our communities and celebrate all of the things they are able to achieve. In the past, people with intellectual disabilities like Down syndrome didn’t have as many opportunities as they do today.

So, Nino is very proud to have a day to celebrate and to think about the wonderful friendships he has made with all of you. I want to give a special mention to his twin sister, Veronica. Nino has always looked up to her and I do believe she has provided the best example for how to treat someone with a disability: like a brother that you love.

Remember when I used the word “advocate” when I told you about today? What does it mean to be an advocate? Well, you are studying Latin roots and I can tell you that the word “advocate” comes from the Latin words “ad,” which means “to” or “toward,” and “voc” which means “call” or “voice.” So an advocate calls toward something as a show of support. In other words, an advocate adds his or her voice in support of another.

Did you know that all of you are advocates for Nino and for everyone with Down syndrome? Over the past 5 years that Nino has been at our school, I have heard so many wonderful stories about how you guys have helped Nino succeed and have been good friends to him. And I want to share some of them with you today. This day wouldn’t be possible with you!

Here are 21 ways that you have “added your voice” to champion someone with Down syndrome. (The last one is for Nino himself.)

  1. When you hugged Nino or comforted him when he was upset.
  2. When you invited him to play on the playground.
  3. When you invited him to your birthday party.
  4. When you helped him pack his backpack.
  5. When you took notes for him in class.
  6. When you helped him write his spelling words.
  7. When you worked with him on reading or math as a peer buddy.
  8. When you picked him to sit next to at lunch.
  9. When you made him an awesome card when he was in the hospital last year.
  10. When you drew him a picture of an elephant because you knew it was his favorite animal.
  11. When you gave him a toy that was yours and you really liked it but you knew it would make him happy to have it.
  12. When you made a rewards chart for him and helped him keep track of his good behavior.
  13. When you forgave him when he wasn’t making good behavior choices.
  14. When you helped him study for a test.
  15. When you shared your dessert with him at lunch.
  16. When you wanted to sit next to him on the bus for a field trip.
  17. When you played games with him at carpool.
  18. When you helped him say what he wanted to say to another classmate if he was having trouble finding words.
  19. When you said he was awesome at soccer and helped him get that way.
  20. When you called him your friend.
  21. Nino: we are proud of you too, every time you speak up for yourself instead of getting mad or frustrated. When you use your voice and your words, you are being a SELF ADVOCATE! Keep going!