Down syndrome day is held on March 21st this week. It's to spread awareness of the condition caused by three chromosomes (hence the third month, March) at the 21st position instead of the usual pair. École Crescentview School principal Tracy Vanstone says one of the school's students, Caleb Reykdal, has the condition and recently won a "Yes I Can" award in Winnipeg.
"We're really, really proud of him winning that and receiving that from Wayne Ewasko, the Education Minister," says Vanstone. "There's a great group of staff that went out to encourage him on his way. And we knew that following February, comes March, and March 21st is recognized as world Down Syndrome Day. I think the most important message that we wanted to give was on one of inclusion. We're really proud of the great strides Caleb is making at our school and we want all children to be included at our school."
She explains we need to recognize people, noting all children have differences.
"Caleb has a lot of things in common with his peers, but he has some things that are different. The bottom line is Caleb is smart and intelligent and capable. We want him to be included just like everybody else in our school. We made a point of acknowledging some of those students who are great friends, peers, and really good at including. So, I was proud to honour those students," says Vanstone. "Kayla made a fantastic presentation and shared some of her stories as a mom. and I shared a few of my stories as a school principal."
Caleb's best friends in the school include Aiden, Oliver, Mason, and Sadie.
Sadie says Caleb's just a regular friend to them.
"He's not actually different from anyone else," she notes. "He's just like a normal kid and he's not different from anyone else. But lots of kids think he's different, so they don't want to include him and they don't want to play with him. We don't think he's different. So, we play with him. He's not a different kid. He's just like one of our normal friends that we play with every day."
Mason notes he loves playing with Caleb, adding he's funny, fast, and great in phys-ed and soccer.
Aiden also says he's fast and funny.
Caleb says he loves his school and has some great friends.
For World Down Syndrome Day, people wear mismatched socks to indicate support, and the students all rallied together in a project to dye some socks with multiple colours.