Rockin’ sockin’ Sussex ready for World Down Syndrome Day

GEORGETOWN – Family and school connections facilitated a rockin’ sockin’ work bee at Sussex Tech High School Saturday, March 3 in preparation for worldwide awareness of Down Syndrome.

About 60 volunteers took part in the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware’s first downstate Mismatch Sock Party – a preparatory prelude to the World Down Syndrome Day’s Rock Your Socks event Wednesday, March 21.

Sussex Tech sophomore Adrianna Cannon brought this project to her school to help raise awareness for individuals with Down Syndrome in honor of her 7-year-old sister Avary, who was diagnosed at birth with Down Syndrome.

Volunteers, including about 15 Sussex Tech’s Jefferson Award students and National Honor Society members, turned 7,000 pair of matching socks into 7,000 pair of mismatched socks.

Vanessa Adams Cannon, mother of Adrianna and Avery, explained the significance of why World Down Syndrome Day is annually held on the calendar date 3-21 – March 21.

“Why we do 3-2-1 is because those that are born with Down Syndrome have a third copy of the 21st chromosome. That’s why we do 3-2-1. It kind of signifies that,” said Ms. Cannon, Sussex County’s representative on the DSA board. “It is a worldwide.”

World Down Syndrome Day promotes awareness and celebrates all things wonderful about people with Down Syndrome.

The bulk of the 7,000 pairs of socks assembled in Sussex County at the mismatch party were pre-ordered – at a break-even $1 a pair.

Upstate, the DSA of Delaware has 63,000 pairs that will be distributed throughout the state.

“We do not use it as a fundraiser. This is our biggest awareness campaign that we do through the entire year, outside of our Buddy Walk,” Ms. Cannon said.  “Our Buddy Walk, that is our fundraiser but it is probably along the same lines as spreading the awareness. To be able to reach over 70,000 people in and around Delaware, I am thrilled that the awareness is there.”

Mismatched pairs of socks are destined for schools, day-cares and businesses that will be participating in the world day event. A limited number were available for non-pre-order purchase.

‘We encourage them to wear them on 3-21 because it starts a conversation,” Ms. Cannon said. “Somebody will ask, ‘Why are you wearing mismatched socks?’ It leads to conversation about Down Syndrome. We are here to raise awareness about Down Syndrome with the premise that we are more alike than different. The socks pretty much symbolize that. Even though they are two different socks they serve the same purpose. They are just unique in style and what makes us different is what makes up special.”

Sussex Tech’s Jefferson Award students hosted the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware’s first downstate Mismatch Sock Party in preparation for World Down Syndrome Day”s Rock Your Socks event on March 21. Tech sophomore Adrianna Cannon brought this project to her school to help raise awareness for individuals with Down Syndrome and in honor of her 7-year-old sister Avary. Approximately 60 people turned 7,000 pair of matching socks into 7,000 pair of mismatched socks. In photo, front from left: Mrs. Delaware America Ivana Hamilton, Madison Kepley, Cailee Layton and Vanessa Cannon (DSA board member and mother of Avary and Adrianna) and Avary Cannon. In back row, Kelly Allen, Janet Littleton and Jayden Niblett.

Among the volunteers who offered helping hands: Ivana Hamilton, the reigning Mrs. Delaware America 2017. She posted in Facebook she enjoyed pairing up mismatched socks and purchased two pair – one for herself and one for Mr. Delaware, her husband Dan.)

As part of a leadership and development program with Skills USA at Tech, Adrianna was required to put together a project that makes the community aware of a health concern of some kind, said Jean Johnson, math instructor at Sussex Tech and one of the teachers who sponsored the event.

“She has the connection,” said Ms. Johnson. “And it has been beautiful.”

“The response from the students and support system from the community has been overwhelming,” said Ms. Cannon, who works in Human Resources at LifeCare at Lofland park. “We’re looking to broaden the minds of individuals. I’d like to think, ‘Would I be here today if my child did not have Down Syndrome?’ I’d like to think that I would be.”

On March 3, volunteers at Sussex Tech High School made 7,000 pair of mismatched socks in preparation for World Down Syndrome Day’s Rock Your Socks event Wednesday, March 21.

Daughter Avary is a first grader at West Seaford Elementary, a school of about 400 students. She is the only student in that school with Down Syndrome.

“My 7-year-old, she is just as capable of doing things as anyone else. She might get one or two things done to somebody else’s 10 to 15, but she is still very active,” said Ms. Cannon. “We’ve come a long way with individuals with disabilities with Down Syndrome. Years ago, when you got a diagnosis people were automatically given the ultimate bad part about it. Basically, one in 700 births is a Down Syndrome birth. In the state of Delaware that is approximately 15 a year. In 2010, the year Avary was born there was actually three.”

Avary has been in the Seaford School District since she has been 2 ½, with several years of pre-school. She is now in first grade. Her therapies are provided to her through school. Most of her school time – about 70 percent – is in inclusive classrooms with typical peers. Also coming into play is her IEP (Individual Education Plan).

“You are no longer isolated. Delaware has a very good program that allows you to have what they call the least restricted environment,” said Ms. Cannon.

Ms. Cannon noted services she discovered that are available to Down Syndrome families, including Delaware’s Child Development Watch, a statewide early intervention program for children ages birth to three. Child Watch mission is to enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities or developmental delays and to enhance the capacity of their families to meet the needs of their young children.

“We actually have a Down Syndrome clinic through A.I. duPont, which works in conjunction with the Down Syndrome Association for community events for a support system. Basically, what it does is provides you with adequate support system,” said Ms. Cannon. “I had no idea what Child Watch was. I had no idea that my therapies would be provided to us from birth.”

As a direct downstate connection with the DSA, Ms. Cannon’s goal was to get “as many people in Sussex County connected so that we could reach out and be a support system for each other, as well as work with the DSA and the fundraising to have things.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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