Van Schaick Grade School students and staff packed the gym Thursday morning to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD).
The event was especially meaningful to Van Schaick parents Jeff and Caroline Stallmer, whose sons Oliver and Oscar have Down syndrome.
“It’s just amazing for the school to support these guys and bring together kids with different abilities to learn about each other,” Jeff said.
Oliver was diagnosed with the chromosomal disorder a week after his birth in 2012. Three years later, the Stallmers travelled to China to adopt Oscar. Both boys will turn seven next month.
“Their peers learn patience, acceptance, and I think some of them will remember Oliver and Oscar for the rest of their lives,” Caroline said. “They are amazing gifts to the world.”
The date for WDSD being the 21st day of the third month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.
Students and staff wore brightly-colored or mismatched socks to show their support.
“Chromosomes go as pairs, so when you wear two different socks it symbolizes the difference,” said special education teacher Maggie Cioppa.
“We welcome everyone and we embrace our differences,” Cioppa added. “Whether it’s how tall you are, hair color, disabilities, disorders. This gives us an opportunity to talk about appreciating each other’s differences.”
More photos from the event can be seen on our public Facebook album.