Saturday, October 25, 2014

Real Awareness

I was preparing food in the concessions stand for the girl's volleyball.  It was crazy busy and we were a man down.  I have to say we were a little unprepared.  One of the girl's from the team came out and said "Mrs. Spoor, you are needed out on the court."  I washed my hands and walked into the gym.  Our principal was talking about Down syndrome.  I did not think too much of it since we were having a Dig 4 Down syndrome night.

Catching me completely off guard, I heard, Mrs. Spoor and Lydia would you come to the center of the court?  I scooped up Lydia and off we went.  They were honoring Lydia.  The senior from the volleyball team came out and gave Lydia a rose.  She smiled and cheered with delight.  She went to the principal to get closer to the microphone.  Typically, when given a chance, she will sing and chat away into the microphone.  Not this time.

However, when the principal said it was time to play volleyball, she raised her rose above her head and shook it and giggled again.  It was a true humbling experience that the entire school would honor this little girl.  That this little girl was so loved and respected.  That the volleyball team would want to raise awareness and money for Down syndrome.

A couple months ago the coach of the volleyball team had this great idea of doing Dig 4 Down syndrome.  I know that a lot of teams wear pink for Breast Cancer Awareness, however, that does not personally affect anyone at the school.  It also seems to be a bit of a fad.  It is amazing to raise so much awareness.  But for me, Down syndrome is personal, it affects my family.  We participate in the Down syndrome awareness walk (we even did two this year) and I write about Down syndrome and I have a Facebook page highlighting Lydia's achievements.  I never imagined that our school would want to create awareness too!

A couple years ago, upon returning from our prolonged experience in the hospital with Lydia, we knew that private school was the best option for our family.  There are several reasons why, but having an education that is Christ-centered was very important.  We searched high and low for a school that we could financially afford (we had some other kids coming up on the horizion) and we wanted a school that would take Lydia.

After touring many schools, we found one that felt like home.  It was a bonus too that they were willing to take Lydia.  And they were not just willing to take her, they wanted her there.  We keep evaluating how well she is doing and if this will work out, but so far, so good.  I do think that it makes all of the difference that Lydia is with her sisters, she knows she is in a place where she is wanted, and her disability is not center stage.  The bar is set high and she is rising to it.  They understand her strengths and capitalize on that.

I can't say enough about this wonderful school.  Such an amazing thing that they have done for our family and especially for Lydia.  I think that it is great that the coach recognized that Down syndrome is something that directly impacts these students and chose to highlight that!

We were able to put up facts all around to educate others about Down syndrome.  We were able to sell T-Shirts to continue to create awareness about Down syndrome and we were able to expose a lot of people to Down syndrome.  The best way to create awareness is to face it head on.  Lydia walked around giving high fives, smiling and giggling.  It take a moment for her to capture your heart, having you smile and realizing that she is more alike than different.

As a team, a school, and a community, there was a lot of money raised.  It will go towards a local Down syndrome chapter where all of the money stays and supports families like ours.  That money will give back to the community, help families out and make a real impact.

What a great idea to show the volleyball team the importance of serving others, having fun, and helping others out.  It was a win all the way around. 

Full inclusion is an important thing.  We are so blessed that Lydia is where she is at.  We are even more blessed that our school rallies behind her and is not afraid to show her support.  I have to say that being part of this event was very humbling and really gave me encouragement.  Inclusion is important for everyone and makes all students better.  These lessons are ones that cannot be taught, they must be learned.  What a great thing for all involved!  We are in the right place.

Thanks Trinity Baptist School for all of your support and love for Lydia.  Thank you to Miss Leeds for the great idea and implementation for Dig 4 Down syndrome.  Thank you Mr. Shaeffer for your support and encouragement to everyone.  And thank you to the volleyball team for playing a very hard fought battle and loving Lydia!  Way to go Patriots!

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