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UNK students hosts Down Syndrome awareness event

Published: Oct. 25, 2020 at 8:29 PM CDT
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - A group of social work students at UNK dedicated their advocacy project to Down Syndrome, after being inspired by a woman who fights to end the stigma around kids with disabilities.

“Our kids are more alike then they are different from other kids, and what a boring world would it be if we are all the same, and that’s kind of the message I’d like everyone to get,” Down Syndrome Advocates and Action Coordinator Suzanne McDonald said.

The students hosted an event at Harmon park in Kearney on Saturday to raise awareness on the topic.

“We all came together in that class, and we’re like how amazing would it be if we got together and organized something for her, and hosted an event to advocate for those with Down syndrome,” UNK Sophomore Alisha Dehart said.

People from the community arrived at the park around 1 p.m. The students gave a speech about why they decided to do it, and why it’s important to advocate for people with Down Syndrome. They also invited the woman who inspired them to share the challenges her sons face everyday with the disability.

“I’ve had my boys in schools where inclusion is not an acceptable policy, where they’re all kind of secluded, and I’ve had them in schools where inclusion is huge,” McDonald said. “The difference I see with the typical kids in the way they deal with my boys is amazing, and even with the community the kids that know them from school will easily approach them whereas others kids that have not been exposed to kids with disabilities will kind of just look at them like they’re weird.”

McDonald said the biggest thing people can do to end the stigma is by not being afraid to talk to someone with a disability.

“I’d rather have someone come ask me questions than kind of stare or have a mom tell their kid don’t stare," McDonald said. "I’d much rather have the kid come and ask the questions, because I think they’re just curious.”

The students finished the event by walking around the park to show solidarity. They said they didn’t do it to get a good grade, but did it because they’re passionate about raising awareness and helping people.

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