World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated around the world on March 21. On this day, both children and adults are encouraged to wear brightly coloured, patterned, or even odd-coloured socks to raise awareness about the condition.
President of the Barbados Down Syndrome Association, Asha Alleyne-Renwick started the local Rock Your Socks campaign this year, after seeing the support it has received worldwide and the awareness it has raised.
“I have been following the campaign for a few years . . . . However, it was after my visit to Trinidad last year for a conference being held for World Down Syndrome Day by their Down Syndrome Family Network that I saw the Lots of Socks campaign in action. It was after that I wanted to try it in Barbados,” explained the mother of three, including eight-year-old Ashton who has Down syndrome.
Alleyne-Renwick, an Infants teacher at the George Lamming Primary School, said she hopes the campaign encourages Barbadians to learn more about Down syndrome.
“I am hoping this campaign will increase the knowledge people have in Barbados about Down syndrome. I am hoping people won’t only wear socks but will be encouraged to do some research. There are many misconceptions about Down syndrome and the abilities of people born with this condition. People with Down syndrome are capable of so much more than is believed,” she stressed.
Her own journey to expand her knowledge about the condition began when she was given Ashton’s diagnosis in July 2010.
“I found out that Ashton had Down syndrome after he was born. My reaction was quite typical. I was shocked and upset and a bit sad. What I knew about Down syndrome was negative therefore I thought that my baby would suffer in this world,” she told Barbados TODAY.
“It turned out to be the opposite. Ashton is the most contented and positive person I know. His loving spirit is infectious and he can always bring a smile to my face even if he has stashed my car keys. Ashton is rather easy going most of the time. I have had some challenges along the way but none insurmountable. Ashton is a loving, clever and caring boy and I would not trade him for the world.”
Alleyne-Renwick had some advice for any parent whose child has been diagnosed with Down syndrome: “Set no limitations. Do not let anyone tell you what your child can or cannot do. Enjoy your baby! Babies with Down syndrome are babies first. They are cute, extra cuddly, adorable and deserving of all the love and attention given to a typical baby. Celebrate their achievements.”
Giving an example of how excited she was when her own son reached milestones, she shared: “When he started to walk, I was ecstatic. I kept so much noise that he fell.”
Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is typically associated with physical growth delays, mild to moderate intellectual disability, and characteristic facial features. The condition can be detected in 1 in 1 000 babies born every year. (LG)