It was yellow and blue at Amherst Middle School for World Down Syndrome Day. Students in Maria Goldman’s class started their day early by selling ribbon stickers in the front hall as students entered the building. They were kept company by two dogs from the PAWS for Love program that visit their classroom each Wednesday.
Even the dogs wore T-shirts designed by the students that featured their own handprints, one blue and the other yellow, positioned to make a heart. Each year, special education teacher Mrs. Goldman organizes special events and activities in her class to celebrate the day.
This year, two guest speakers were part of the agenda. Jared Smith, a cousin of seventh-grader Emily White, is an adult with Down Syndrome. He spoke to students about life after high school, his career, his residence, how he manages his paychecks and other life skills.
Engelic Everett, an author who has Down Syndrome, also visited the class to discuss what it's like to be a writer.
“I really wanted to bring in guest speakers this year to motivate my students,” said Mrs. Goldman. “Self-esteem is tied to how valuable a child feels and how capable they believe they are. Knowing there are successful people, including authors, musicians, and entrepeneurs who also have Down Syndrome and who faced similar struggles can be a source of inspiration for my students. I want all of my students to know how much worth they have and that their contributions to our world will only make it a better place to live. My hope is that they all view themselves as valuable members of society.”
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