October 17, 2012
IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE
Media Contact: Kerri Tabasky 617-797-2986
Sudbury’s Loring School hosts first ever
“Little Buddy Challenge”
Event Promotes Acceptance & Inclusion for
Individuals with Down Syndrome and other Special Needs
Sudbury, MA — On Saturday, October 13th, on the heels of the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress (MDSC) 16th Annual Buddy Walk, and to celebrate National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Loring School in Sudbury hosted its first annual “Little Buddy Challenge.” This program was a second grade social action project aimed at teaching the Loring School Community about Down syndrome as well as accepting differences among one another. Kids learned that everyone has challenges, whether or not they have special needs. What’s important is how they can use their strengths and abilities to overcome these challenges. They learned about working together as a team, helping one another, and how they as individuals can make a difference.
Leading up to Saturday’s event, the second grade students were paid a visit by Kate Bartlett, a self-advocate with Down syndrome. She shared video clips from her appearances on “Sesame Street”, as well as a presentation about her accomplishments throughout the years. The kids were very receptive to her and excited to have her there.
Last Friday, all Loring School students participated in an enrichment program with the a cappella group, "Five O'Clock Shadow". This group worked with the students in a fun and interactive manner to continue to educate them about overcoming challenges. For example, Five O'Clock Shadow's "challenge" is that they don't have instruments to make music, so they use their voices to sound like instruments. However, in order to sound really good, they had to combine their skills and work together.
An introduction was also made by Dr. Brian Skotko, Co-Director of the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2001 he co-authored the national award-winning book, Common Threads: Celebrating Life with Down Syndrome and, most recently, Fasten Your Seatbelt: A Crash Course on Down Syndrome for Brothers and Sisters. Dr. Skotko talked with the kids about chromosomes, ending the use of the “R-word”, and then answered some great questions from the kids.
On Saturday, the kids went through a series of “challenges”, which had them working together as a team, encouraging each other, as well as using their individual abilities to accomplish the tasks at hand. After they completed the challenges, they participated in discussion groups facilitated by Loring School teachers and parents, as well as the Vice Principal, Stephen Wiltshire. They then enjoyed a pizza party and another performance by Five O’Clock Shadow.
“The community support for this program was exceptional. 140 Loring School students participated on Saturday. Acceptance for all individuals, regardless of their abilities, is something that the students will continue to learn throughout the year at school. As the mother of a child with Down syndrome, I felt that this kind of program would really benefit the students as well as the parents. This helps to pave the way for a great elementary school experience for my daughter Anna and her friends”, says Kerri Tabasky, who came up with the idea for this program a year ago. Kerri worked with a phenomenal team of volunteers, including the school administrators and teachers, to help make the program a success. Kerri adds, “I credit the parents as well for encouraging their kids to participate. Without them, the program would not have been as successful.”
Over $1,000 was raised from this program to benefit the MDSC. Funds raised from the annual Buddy Walk and The Little Buddy Challenge help support programs and services that the MDSC offers, including Parents’ First Call, Advocates in Motion (AIM), Teacher Partnership Network, Educators Forum, Annual Conference, and Legislative Advocacy. The MDSC is the leading organization in Massachusetts for providing information, networking opportunities, and advocacy for and about Down syndrome. A portion of the funds raised also benefit the National Down Syndrome Society's National Policy Center.