Head to the Myriad Gardens Sept. 24 for the Down Syndrome Festival & 5k! - MetroFamily Magazine
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Head to the Myriad Gardens Sept. 24 for the Down Syndrome Festival & 5k!

by Candace Newport

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

The annual Down Syndrome Festival and 5k, hosted by the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma, is always an event full of excitement, entertainment and endless amounts of joy. This will be our family’s second year attending the festival, and we are most excited about the unity it brings among the community. Specifically, the way it demonstrates inclusion and acceptance of those with Down syndrome and their families.

We were blown away by the amount of support our team “Claire Bears” received last year! It was humbling to be able to participate alongside other families who are on the same journey of loving someone with Down syndrome.

Why should you participate or donate to the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma? This organization is unique in that it provides hope and truth to new families receiving a diagnosis, which goes beyond just Down syndrome. This not-for-profit organization raises money to help families and individuals with Down syndrome create the best possible outcomes and achieve the greatest goals they can through programs such as:

  • Free tutoring services and speech therapy for individuals with Down syndrome
  • Kylies Kitchen: microwave-based cooking classes for teens and adults
  • New Parent packets and quarterly new parent breakfasts
  • Parent-to-parent support meetings
  • Workshops for parents, self-advocates and educators
  • Scholarships for families to attend national conventions/conferences
  • Education and medical outreach initiatives
  • Family and teen/adult events and programs.

Your support matters. When you think of our society today, inclusion and acceptance are buzz words that everyone loves to use. I didn’t truly understand how to live this out until Claire Bear came into our life. From the moment Claire was safely brought into this world, she has taught us more about what it means to be a human, to treat others as valued and treasured individuals, to acknowledge and interact and truly SEE those people who are unconsciously (or maybe even, dare I say, consciously) overlooked.

One of my life goals for Claire is to fight for ACCEPTANCE and INCLUSION and to demonstrate what that truly means.

At this Festival and 5k you will meet inclusion face to face. You will see what it’s like to interact with and show love and support to those who are different. You may be stretched outside your comfort zone in the best possible way. Our family members are people first and want to be treated just like that. A smile, a friendly hello, a high five … take your pick; however you greet your neighbor, waitress, grocer … they just want to be seen and acknowledged as valued individuals of our community.

So come down to the festival to enjoy the vendors, inflatables, food trucks, raffles and more. Sign up for the 5k and run alongside self-advocates and families to support our community. Register for the 1-mile awareness walk and stand for something more than just words: include and accept those sweet souls around you. We would love to have you!

Candace Newport is wife to Ryan and full-time mom to three beautiful girls 4 and under. They live in Edmond and enjoy all things family friendly and community oriented. Candace loves to stay connected to other moms through her role as a fitness instructor with fit-4-mom OKC metro. She also volunteers work with Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma, helping to raise awareness and promote acceptance and inclusion.

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