Hub City signs proclamation in honor of World Down Syndrome Day
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) -In honor of World Down Syndrome Day, Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker signed a proclamation with families and local organizations around him.
Mayor Barker said this day is about supporting and learning the stories of those with Down syndrome.
“Accept them, engage with them because they are going to put a smile on your face and support their families and support organizations that really provide an outreach effort and opportunities for them to live healthy, productive lives,” said Barker.
Danna Blackledge, who has a 9-year-old son with Down syndrome, said this day is also a chance to highlight organizations that provide children and adults with the tools for success.
“It’s really so we can stress the importance of seeing these children and adults as living beings, that serve as a purpose in our lives,” said Blackledge. “And, to know, yes, they have disabilities, but they have so many more capabilities that can transfer to the workforce.”
Kerry Camille Helveston, who enjoys activities at The Arc Southeast Mississippi, said she likes making new friends and participating in the arts and crafts.
“I like to color, I like doing word searches and as many people say, I am a social butterfly,” said Helveston.
Cindy Pennington, executive director of The Arc, said it’s important to expose those with Down syndrome to the same activities as everyone else.
“You know, you want them involved in the same thing that every child in this community has, every adult in our community,” said Pennington. “We get to go to sporting events, we get to go out to dinner, and they are no different than us.”
With the upcoming Hattiesburg Half Marathon on April 1, Helveston will be wearing race bib #321, which refers to Trisomy 21 (tri-21), the medical identifier for Down syndrome.
This bib number initiative, established by Adidas, is to reserve a spot for runners with Down syndrome and to encourage representation in mainstream sports.
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