By Greg Peterson, Staff Writer
During the month of October, people across the world come together to celebrate those with Down Syndrome and to promote inclusion for those with physical and intellectual disabilities.
Down Syndrome is a disorder that occurs when a child is born with an extra twenty-first chromosome, which leads to delays in mental and physical development. It is the most common genetic birth defect in the United States, affecting one out of every 691 babies.
Down Syndrome Awareness Month has the goal of spreading awareness about Down Syndrome and providing an easy outlet to show love and encouragement to those who have disabilities.
National Down Syndrome Awareness Month is not about celebrating disabilities, but celebrating abilities. This is a time to recognize the accomplishments and abilities of people affected with Down Syndrome and raise awareness of the experiences of not just people with Down Syndrome, but their friends a family as well.
One way to show support for those with Down Syndrome is to participate in a Buddy Walk. A Buddy Walk is a 5K walk that allows people to raise money for noble causes such as leadership training for those with special needs. The goals of a Buddy Walk are to promote love and encouragement for those with Down Syndrome and to promote inclusion in the workplace.
Recently, Furman hosted its second annual Best Buddies Walk Saturday, Sept. 24.
Sophomore Jamison Brown feels very strongly about the attitudes and treatment towards those with intellectual disabilities. Brown spends time during the summer working at Camp Joy, a one-on-one week long summer camp experience with people who have special needs.
Brown described just how easy it is to speak with those who have intellectual disabilities.
“Just be their friend and treat them like anyone else that you would meet,” Brown said. “Do not highlight the fact that they have a disability. These people have really high functioning personalities.”
Other ways to get involved include simply showing love and encouragement to those with Down Syndrome. This is a very rewarding experience, as you often find that a simple wave or smile can result in a big hug and lots of laughs.
“If you are kind to those with special needs, they will often go out of their way to be kind to you as well,” said Brown.
Whether it is Down Syndrome or another intellectual disability, those active in awareness campaigns are proud of the visibility shone on those with special needs, not for their disease but for their personalities.