On October 27, Forestdale School teachers and students participated in a Buddy Walk to help raise awareness about Down Syndrome. Organizers Jennifer Blackington, school nurse, and Jen Strano, special education teacher, felt that hosting an in-school walk during October (Down Syndrome Awareness Month), would create an opportunity to promote a dialogue within the newly formed school about Down Syndrome and acceptance of differences.
Before the walk, classrooms watched a video about the book, My Friend Isabelle. The heart warming story is about a typical child named Charlie and his friend Isabelle who has Down Syndrome. As Charlie says in the video “Mommy says differences are what make the world so great.” The words and images of the video provided examples of how Charlie and Isabelle are more alike than different. Meaningful discussions followed within the classrooms. One teacher said, “It is never too early to start teaching acceptance and empathy. This is a wonderful way to inform and celebrate differences.”
Over 40 staff members and hundreds of students walked the halls to offer their support for people with Down Syndrome. Students were asked to bring a coin to be donated to the National Down Syndrome Society resulting in over $200 being raised.