Lake Zurich students raise Down syndrome awareness
Sarah Adams Elementary School student Jenna Snyder, who is the only student at the school with Down syndrome, celebrates with Mrs. Kuczek’s fifth-grade class, which raised the most money in the school for Down syndrome awarness. | Photo courtesy of Stacy Krebill GRID: Edu in Focus
Updated: December 2, 2012 6:42AM
LAKE ZURICH — Sarah Adams Elementary School students raised more than $700 earlier this month to help raise awareness about Down syndrome.
Stacy Krebill, social worker at Sarah Adams, said the local effort worked in conjunction with the national Down Syndrome Awareness Month, which was held throughout October.
“I really just wanted to bring Down syndrome awareness,” said Krebill, who has a two-year-old son with Down syndrome.
Krebill first collaborated with the Sarah Adams student council to gauge student interest in the campaign. The group decided to post and announce Down syndrome facts throughout the week, starting Oct. 15.
“The kids wanted to get on board,” Krebill said. “So we explained to the kids that Down syndrome is an extra chromosome.”
Since not all the students understood what that meant, she used the effort as a teaching moment to explain Down syndrome to them.
“It’s a road map of how you develop,” she said, explaining that she described a person with Down syndrome as having a more difficult time speaking, writing and sometimes walking.
To explain further, Krebill said, the school then had students participate in various activities, like talking with marshmallows in their mouths or writing while wearing oven mitts to experience what it’s like to have the low muscle tone of someone with Down syndrome.
“We tried to have the kids walk in the shoes of someone with Down syndrome to see what it’s like,” Krebill said.
Julie Snyder, a parent of a student with Down syndrome at Sarah Adams, said she was grateful for the effort because her daughter, Jenna, has had better interactions with her classmates because of the awareness week.
Snyder said her daughter is the only student at Sarah Adams with Down syndrome.
“I think the biggest thing is that kids don’t understand it,” said Snyder, who added that other students at school have since gone out of their way to be friends with Jenna.
“Kids have been really receptive and parents have been great,” she said.
During the awareness week, students also placed posters around the school and announced Down syndrome facts over the loudspeaker. Students learned that there are more than 400,000 people living in the U.S. with Down syndrome and that it affects people of all races and demographics.
Students also collected loose change to put toward Down syndrome awareness. Krebill said they raised more than $700 in total.
“It was nice to see everyone’s outpouring of support,” she said. “What we teach to the kids, they can re-teach to other people.”
Krebill said the collections started immediately after the Buddy Walk, which is a one-mile walk that took place in Wheaton earlier this year to raise funds for Down syndrome awareness. She said the class that raised the most funds throughout the week was rewarded with an extra recess.
“It’s just a really good life lesson for the kids,” Krebill said.