Odd socks rock as a symbol of inclusion

Mount Keira Demonstration School combined Harmony Day with World Down Syndrome Day to support a fellow student. Julee Brienen reports.

A woman and a student. A woman and a student.
Image: Mount Keira Demonstration School student Lincoln Rodden with School Learning Support Officer Fiona Jordan.

The 95 students at Mount Keira Demonstration School celebrated Harmony Day yesterday by dressing in orange and wearing their most colourful socks to support Year 1 student Lincoln Rodden who has Down Syndrome.

Principal Tenae Collins said the themes of World Down Syndrome Day and Harmony Day, both celebrated on March 21, slotted together perfectly for the school that works tirelessly to promote inclusion.

“Harmony Day’s message is that Everyone Belongs and World Down Syndrome Day’s message is to advocate for inclusion around the world,” she said.

“Our school is doing amazing things to ensure that we are advocating for inclusion and promoting positive wellbeing for all.”

Students and school staff put on odd or brightly coloured socks and spent the day rotating through fun learning activities that promoted inclusion, unity and diversity.

They took part in a question and answer session with Trent Potter, a young local man with Down Syndrome, and showed off their socks and great dance moves in a parade.

School captain Ella Morris said she enjoyed leading activities for the younger students and learning about Down Syndrome.

“It was good that everyone could ask Trent questions about having Down Syndrome,” she said.

“I learned that people who have Down Syndrome have three copies of their T21 chromosome, and the reason we wear socks on World Down Syndrome Day is because when you look at one of the chromosomes up close, they look like a pair of socks.

“We are a very inclusive school and everybody feels like they belong here. Lots of people really like playing with Lincoln and like to take care of him.”

School captain Oliver McNamara said he enjoyed Trent’s speech and finding out about his life living with Down Syndrome.

“It really isn’t that different; you are still the same person, but maybe sometimes it takes a little bit longer to learn some things so people should be patient and considerate,” Oliver said.

Stephanie Rodden, Lincoln’s mum, is the founder of social enterprise Celebrate T21, an organisation ensuring that no family should feel isolated, unsupported, or pressured to terminate based on a diagnosis of Down Syndrome.

Stephanie said the school had a wonderful transition program for Lincoln before he started school.

“Lincoln would come to the school with his School Learning Support Officer, Fiona Jordan, and they would go around to classrooms teaching the students Key Word signs and how to communicate with Lincoln,” she said.

“What I really love is this school is all about inclusion. There’s no segregating him and pulling him out of class; he is learning along with his peers.

“All kids need modifications to learn, and the great thing is it has spread from the classroom out into the playground where the kids look out for him.”

A boy and a man in front of an Aboriginal art mural on a wall. A boy and a man in front of an Aboriginal art mural on a wall.
Image: Lincoln with Trent Potter, who did a question and answer session with students and staff for World Down Syndrome Day.
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