Hundreds of students and staff across Crown Point Community School Corporation wore their brightest, zaniest and most unique socks on Monday. The district celebrated “Rock Your Socks,” an awareness campaign for World Down Syndrome Day.
Individuals with Down syndrome (or Trisomy 21) have three copies of their 21st chromosome. The chromosomes often look like bright socks under a microscope, hence wearing socks to raise awareness on the date 3-21. As noted by World Down Syndrome Day on their website, Down syndrome is a “naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has always been a part of the human condition.”
Jerry Ross Elementary Exceptional Education teacher Rebecca Zolp said participating in the day is an important part of advocacy for their school. “We rock our socks here at Jerry Ross because it is so important to us to advocate for the rights, respect, and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. By joining in to celebrate this day, it helps to bring awareness and acceptance of our friends in our school and community,” Zolp said.
Christina Curtis, a teacher at MacArthur Elementary, noted that the day is a fun and spirited way to encourage inclusion and acceptance of not just individuals with Down syndrome, but others as well. “Rock Your Socks celebrates that we are all human and all beautifully different. I think it is beneficial to our schools and students because it encourages us to look deeper and celebrate each other and the differences we may have,” Curtis said.
Director of Exceptional Education Heather Paskis said that the celebration is just the beginning. “Rocking our socks is an important start, but the real work begins after building awareness. Conversations about what inclusion looks like and what it means for all students is the second step. Then comes implementation and advocacy - ensuring that all students are included in the general education classroom whenever possible.”
In the past two years, Crown Point Community School Corporation has implemented a number of strategies to bring more exceptional learners into general education classrooms. Crown Point has hired additional staff including exceptional education coordinators, more paraprofessionals, diagnosticians, behavior specialists, and social workers - and more of these positions have been added for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year. The district also invested in additional training and resources to provide support for teachers as they implement inclusion strategies.