Sock Day raises dis­abil­ity aware­ness

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - GE­OR­GIA FOR­RESTER and RICHARD MAYS

Stripes, spots, and zig-zag pat­terned socks adorned the feet, hands and heads of Whakarongo School staff and pupils on Mon­day. Of course, per­fectly nor­mal – it was Sock Day.

The 21st of the third month is an aware­ness day for Down syn­drome, a ge­netic dis­or­der caused by ex­tra or third copy of chro­mo­some num­ber 21.

One of the school’s 500 stu­dents, Room 18 pupil Lily Romeril, 9, was born with the ge­netic dis­or­der.

Her teach­ers and peers de­cided to mark the day to raise aware­ness and show their sup­port.

‘‘It’s for Down syn­drome aware­ness and it’s a nice, in­clu­sive way for Lily to be a part of our so­cial com­mu­nity,’’ ex­plains Deputy prin­ci­pal Les­ley Jef­fery

Lily wore pink and black striped socks and a sock hair tie. The sock on her right foot fea­tur­ing an owl face made out of sil­ver and black gems, is a par­tic­u­lar favourite. School too, is a place she likes to be, en­joy­ing lessons, teach­ers and the com­pany of her friends.

This was the sec­ond sock-day the school has held and the chil­dren were ex­cited to take part.

‘‘They’ve been de­lighted. It’s just nice to have some fun.’’

Les­ley says the school has held cloth­ing days for a range of chil­dren with dis­or­ders and diseases.

‘‘Our com­mu­nity is made up of a lot of dif­fer­ent peo­ple and it’s just cel­e­brat­ing who they are.’’

Lily’s mum Deb­bie says her daugh­ter is fun and funny, and peo­ple are gen­uinely in­ter­ested in how she is do­ing. Now Sock Day is over, Deb­bie is look­ing for­ward to next Wed­nes­day’s Nav­i­gat­ing Your Fu­ture dis­abil­ity expo in the Con­ven­tion Cen­tre. An ini­tia­tive of Phoenix Sup­ported Em­ploy­ment with the sup­port of the city coun­cil, the expo brings to­gether dis­abil­ity sup­port groups.

‘‘It has taken me nine years to get used to this, but my jour­ney changes all the time and I al­ways need new in­for­ma­tion. By go­ing to the expo you get to find out more, and come across or­gan­i­sa­tions you’ve never heard of be­fore.’’

The March 30 expo, from 11am to 6pm, has at­tracted agen­cies across the full dis­abil­ity spec­trum in­clud­ing train­ing and vo­ca­tional providers, sup­port and ad­vice net­works, ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions, recre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties and fund­ing sources.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIR­FAX NZ

Whakarongo School kids cel­e­brate with socks dur­ing Mon­day’s ‘sock day’ rais­ing aware­ness of Down syn­drome. Lily Romeril, who has the dis­or­der is fourth from the left.

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