AAPS: Lakewood students celebrate classmate on World Down Syndrome Day

Video by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News

It was an all-school effort at Lakewood Elementary to create a colorful display celebrating World Down Syndrome Day on March 21.

Caryn Gehrke, a mother of four who proudly says her Lakewood second grader, Charlotte, “rocks an extra chromosome” organized the project with art teacher Peggy Leonard and Principal Airess Stewart.

Gehrke visited every class during art last week and taught the students about Down Syndrome. Then each student designed and decorated a sock for a bulletin board as diverse and unique as the students themselves. Sock-like shapes are similar in appearance to chromosomes.

In addition, students and staff were invited to wear blue and yellow, the colors selected to bring awareness to Down Syndrome.

“Our family is thrilled to have partnered with Lakewood to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day,” says Gehrke. “It was an emotional day, seeing all of the students and staff decked out in blue and yellow and crazy socks in support of our daughter. Charlotte had a fabulous day. She was celebrated by all of her favorite people, and as her brothers said, ‘It’s like a bonus birthday!’”

Gehrke read to Charlotte’s class Monday morning, while the Down Syndrome Support Team—a free-standing parent support group from southeast Michigan—stopped by to give everyone in her class new eye-catching socks and donated a book about inclusion. (Teachers who have students with Down Syndrome in their classes could fill out a form to get the socks and books donated to their classrooms.)

Gehrke explained that World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated on 3/21 as it represents three copies of the 21st chromosome.