Starting on Monday, Colin's school is going to be celebrating a "week of respect" and in honor of that, families were given a peace sign that they needed to decorate. The goal of the project was to demonstrate what respect means to your family. We talked about it with the kids and spent some time discussing about what it means to be a friend, to be kind to others, and to help out whenever they could.
Today, Chris and the kids participated in races in support of the Paul Jackson Fund, which was created in honor of a family member of Aunt Maureen's. The kids were really excited to cheer for Chris, Uncle Brian and Aunt Maureen and we made sure we were in a few spots in order to do so. I would tell the kids when I saw them coming but they otherwise cheered and clapped all on their own.
The thing was, I found the kids not just cheering for the people that they knew. As many of the runners ran by, they clapped and cheered and said good job over and over again. They didn't know who they were cheering for but were showing their support for everyone that was running. They are 3 and 5 years old, but they have learned how to support others.
The purpose for so many of us to raise awareness during the month of October is so that people see that Colin is just a person like the rest of us. He has emotions and feelings, likes and dislikes, and he has lots of people who love him. We raise awareness because we want people to see that there is nothing scary about Down Syndrome. Teachers spend time talking about respect at school, even at such young ages because they are the ones that get it. They often don't see the differences that adults do and they know what it's like to be a friend regardless.
Raising awareness and respect should also start at home. Our kids should see it in the way we treat our spouses, the way we support our friends and family, the way we help others, how we speak to those around us, using words like "please" and "thank you", smiling at strangers, holding the door open for others, and how we are otherwise good people.
The Special Olympics has started a movement for athletes to "play unified". They are igniting a change to take place by saying that if we play unified, then we will begin to live unified. When we live unified, we are supporting others and seeing past the differences.