Wednesday was World Down Syndrome Day, a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. The date, being the 21st day of the 3rd month was selected to signify the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.
Locally, 11-year-old Michaela Jones is more like her fellow fifth graders than she is different. Her parents say she’s proof that the assumptions that people make about children with Down syndrome are often wrong.
“There’s a lot of stereotypes,” says Michaela’s father, Sam Jones. “Like, they all smile and they’re always happy. No. They have the same [range of] emotions as everybody else does.”
Michaela’s mother, Shannon, says, “People I think might approach her as if she’s not able to communicate. And so, they might ask myself or my husband questions, and so, of course, we direct the question to her kind of [like] ‘Michaela, how old are you? What do you like to do? You know, whatever the question might be.”
“People just don’t understand that they are people too, and they are some of the kindest, sort of big hearted patients that I have,” says Dr. Karena Hall, a pediatrician at SwedishAmerican Health System.
Michaela is very active in the community. She’s a cheerleader with Gigi’s Playhouse and volunteers at PAWS Humane Society by reading to the animals.