World marks Down Syndrome Day

Timothy Patrick, 4, of Grand Junction draws pictures with chalk outside the Lincoln Orchard Mesa preschool as he waits with his mother and sister for class to start Friday on World Down Syndrome Day. Several days ago, Timothy took a spill and scraped his nose and face but that didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for going to preschool. March 21 was chosen as World Down Syndrome Day because the syndrome is most commonly caused by an extra 21st chromosome in a condition known as Trisomy 21.

When friends ask 13-year-old Sierra Baker what’s wrong with her little brother, she says, “Nothing.”

Her brother, 4-year-old Timmy Patrick, may look a little different and his coordination isn’t perfect for his age. But he can play, laugh, and love like any other toddler.

Timmy has Down syndrome, which means he was born with a third copy of chromosome 21. His family and teachers at Lincoln Orchard Mesa Elementary School’s preschool celebrated World Down Syndrome Day in his honor Friday by wearing Down syndrome awareness colors blue and yellow.

World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated internationally on the 21st in the third month of the year because of the third copy of chromosome 21 that determines Down syndrome. Events worldwide range from walks and runs to people supporting the cause by wearing multiple socks.

Timmy’s mother, Sarah Patrick, encouraged her son’s preschool class to commemorate World Down Syndrome Day to raise awareness about the genetic disorder among those who know him best. Though Down syndrome can stunt physical and intellectual growth and may be linked to other health concerns, Sarah said she wants people to know her son “can do anything.”

“Fifty years ago (people with Down syndrome) were institutionalized. Now there’s a physician’s assistant in Boston who has Down syndrome, lots of actors and actresses who have Down syndrome,” she said.

Lincoln Orchard Mesa preschool teacher Barbara Michel said Timmy is the first student with Down syndrome she’s ever had. She was happy to don a blue T-shirt and wear a yellow flower pin in her hair to celebrate the day.

“Having Timmy in class has taught us a lot,” she said. “Special days like this are a chance to tell everyone about something important.”


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