Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October is Down syndrome Awareness Month!

 Help spread the word that October is Down syndrome Awareness month! Here are some simple ways that you can get the word out:


1.     Share a fact a day on social media. Visit the Down syndrome Indiana Facebook page or twitter page for a daily sharable fact. Then share it!

2.     Go to the movies. See the movie, Produce, during this year’s annual Heartland Film Festival.

Calvin, a professional baseball player sent to an early retirement due to his panic attacks at the plate, is struggling with the curveball life has thrown him. He sleepwalks through his days and the challenge of raising his teen daughter, when he is awakened by the most unlikely person – a kid with Down syndrome named, Produce. A must see! Click here for more information.

3.     Share information about Down syndrome with educators, providers and the medical community. Down Syndrome Indiana has made it easy for you by creating a simple one page of Frequently Asked Questions. Please click on this link for a downloadable and sharable version of the Frequently Asked Questions.

4.     Still encounter myths and misconceptions about Down syndrome? We have you covered there too.

5.     Have DSI present at your school. We invite you to contact DSI if you are interested in having someone from DSI visit your classroom to present an, "Everybody Counts" session. You can reach our office by emailing info@dsindiana.org.

6.     Schedule a Kids on the Block puppet show. The Kids on the Block Program is a unique way to teach awareness and acceptance of all others with the help of child size puppets. The first puppet troupe of eighth graders was established in 2009.  After extensive training in the effective use of these puppets, the puppet troupe hosts puppet shows and Q&A sessions to teach Pre-K thru 4th grade students the importance of accepting others. In 2013, Down Syndrome Indiana and the Joseph Maley Foundation formed a partnership to include education about Down syndrome awareness in the puppet troupe curriculum. If you are interested in scheduling a performance at your school, please contact Vivian Maley at vmaley@josephmaley.org.

7.     Request an Educator Toolkit for your school. Down Syndrome Indiana helps students with Down syndrome get a better education by providing educators with a free mini library upon request. This rich resource is full of books that encourage classroom inclusion and high expectations. If you would like to request a toolkit, please contact Alyssa@dsindiana.org or call 317-925-7617. This wonderful tool is valued at $109 so please only request what you will use. While Supplies Last! More info at: http://www.dsindiana.org/EducatorsToolkit.php.

8.     Be in the community. Send DSI your stories about what individuals with Down syndrome are doing in the community. DSI wants to feature those stories. Please send your stories to lisa@dsindiana.org today.

Friday, September 5, 2014


Down Syndrome Indiana Encourages Participants to Take Strides towards Acceptance and Inclusion for People with Down syndrome.

By Guest Blogger: Jessica Hadsell, DSI Event Coordinator

Indianapolis, IN - The 17th Annual Buddy Walk® in Indianapolis will take place in Celebration Plaza of White River State Park on Saturday, October 11th.  More than 5,000 people are expected to attend the event, which is one of over 250 Walks across the country this fall to raise awareness and funds for programs that benefit people with Down syndrome and their families.


The National Buddy Walk® Program is supported by Emmy-Award Winning Imagination Movers, who lend their talent by appearing in the new national public service announcement. "Buddy Walks are fantastic events where smiles are shared, hugs are free, games are played and most importantly - footsteps are heard as we all walk together to support people with Down syndrome," said Imagination Mover Scott Durbin.


The National Buddy Walk® Program welcomes participants of all ages and abilities. The goals of the program are to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome and to positively influence local and national policy and practice. Last year alone, Buddy Walk® events raised more than $12.1 million to benefit national advocacy initiatives, as well as local programs and services. All funds raised through the National Buddy Walk® Program support both local and national programs.


The Buddy Walk® in Indianapolis will feature many family-friendly festivities in the park beginning at 9:00am; the walk begins at noon. Participants will enjoy music and interactive entertainment featuring the talents of local families, delicious food, an Information Expo sponsored by WestPoint Financial Group, and enough inspiration to last the entire year! To learn more, visit www.dsindiana.org/buddyWalk.php or contact Down Syndrome Indiana at (317)925-7617.


About Down Syndrome Indiana

Down Syndrome Indiana is a not-for-profit organization serving the needs of individuals with Down syndrome and their families. Dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with Down syndrome, their mission is to serve as a conduit of information, support and advocacy for individuals with Down syndrome and their families, which promotes growth and inclusion in the community. The programs and services provided by Down Syndrome Indiana are supported by individual and corporate donations combined with annual fund raisers and special events.


About NDSS

The National Down Syndrome Society is a nonprofit organization representing the more than 400,000 Americans with Down syndrome. The mission of NDSS is to be the national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. The National Down Syndrome Society envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations, and become valued members of welcoming community.  To learn more about NDSS, visit www.ndss.org.



To learn more about the Buddy Walk® in Indianapolis, please contact:

Jessica Hadsell, Event Coordinator  

708 E. Michigan Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202

Office: (317) 925-7617

Fax: (317) 925-7619


Monday, August 11, 2014

In a Perfect World…. Back to School would be Easy.

In a perfect world, going back to school would be a breeze. Here are some resources to keep on hand in case you need them this school year:

1.     10 Things Teachers Should Know about Down syndrome: http://www.gillianmarchenko.com/10-things-a-teacher-should-know-about-down-syndrome/.

2.     Join the Inclusive Education Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/131744783563993/.

3.     Join the IDEA and IEP tips Facebook page: IDEA and IEP Tips Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/IDEATIPS/.

4.     Find your way through Indiana’s Special Education Rules by downloading, Navigating the Course at: http://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/specialed/navigatingthecourse.pdf.

5.     Dive in deeper by taking online courses through INSOURCE. Visit their online course library at:  http://training.insource.org/.

6.     With over a thousand apps now available to help individuals with special needs it has become increasingly difficult to find and choose the right special needs app. The Friendship Circle App Review gives you the ability to find the perfect special needs app for your child. http://www.friendshipcircle.org/apps/

7.     Think college isn’t for your son or daughter? You may rethink that after learning about postsecondary education programs available at: http://www.thinkcollege.net//

8.     Down Syndrome Education USA works with parents and teachers to improve education for children with Down syndrome. http://www.dseusa.org/en-us/.

9.     IPAS staff includes disability rights advocates and attorneys who have the authority to pursue appropriate legal and administrative remedies on behalf of people with disabilities, to ensure the enforcement of their constitutional and statutory rights:  http://www.in.gov/ipas/2452.htm.

10.  10 Ways to help your Child with Special Needs Make a positive Start to the new year: http://www.chicagoparent.com/magazines/special-parent/summer-2014/school-days.

11.  Parents, educators, advocates, and attorneys come to Wrightslaw for accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities. http://www.wrightslaw.com/

Also, please remember that Down Syndrome Indiana offers resources for parents and educational professionals to better serve children with Down syndrome. We offer a variety of publications and trainings to assist educators. Check out our resource page at: http://www.dsindiana.org/Educators.php.

Sending you love and good luck this year!


Lisa Wells, Executive Director

Monday, August 4, 2014

Ten Things Every Baby with Down syndrome wishes you knew

Dear Mom or Dad,

1.     I am a person first. Down syndrome does not define who I am or what I can grow up to become.

2.    I am happy with my life. I like who I am and I like the way I look. I am proud of who I am. You are proud of me too. If you haven’t gotten there yet, don’t worry, you will.

3.     Dancing is most likely going to be a big part of our life now.

4.    It is okay for me to have other friends with Down syndrome. It is okay for me to have friends that don’t have a disability too. I need a healthy social life.

5.    I may take longer to learn some things but I will pretty much want a boyfriend or girlfriend around the same time as the other kids at my school.

6.    Speaking of school, I can go to college if I choose. Believe in me. Challenge me. Include me. Don’t give up on my education.

7.    I know you want to protect me from anything that can harm me but sometimes I need to learn lessons the hard way. It is a part of growing up. Help me learn my lessons in a safe environment. When I want to do something, Let me try. If I can’t do it, I will figure that out on my own.

8.    I really need you to be my advocate. This world is still not as accepting of me as I wish it were. I will need you to stand up for me until I am viewed as an equal.

9.    I am a productive member of society. I want to give back to the community and I am depending on you to help me realize my strengths and showcase them. I deserve every opportunity to be my best self.

10.  I know that you are dedicating everything you have to making the world a better place for me. I also need you to take care of yourself. I need you to be the best you can be and set a positive example for how to live my life when I am your age. Connect with other parents that have a child with Down syndrome. You are part of a very special and lucky group of people now…

Thank you for being my parent. This is really going to be great!



Your child

Monday, July 28, 2014

In a Perfect World…. We would all stay positive amid life’s challenges.

I would like to tell you about a children’s book that I absolutely love and highly recommend. It is called, The Energy Bus for Kids. It is based on the must read adult version, The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. The Energy Bus for Kids is a story about staying positive and overcoming life’s challenges. It helps kids gain skills to stay positive, resilient and to know what to do when bullied. This book is great for children and teens with Down syndrome and their siblings. It is also great for EVERYONE. Parents and Educators can download a teaching guide and journal to accompany the book at: http://energybuskids.com/resources.html. The Energy Bus for Kids is available through all major bookstores and online at: http://energybuskids.com/. 

Stay Positive,


Lisa Wells, Executive Director 

Monday, July 14, 2014

In a Perfect World…. All families would have access to world renowned speakers

 Amazing weekend. I don’t want it to be over!”

-        Jen

DSI Successfully Hosts the 2014 NDSC Convention- From July 11th through the 13th 3,300 guests gathered at the 2014 National Down Syndrome Congress Convention hosted by Down Syndrome Indiana. The convention brought in world renowned speakers and world class opportunities for families to connect. Indy’s own, Dr. Marilyn Bull was awarded the Pueschel-Tjossem Memorial Research Award,  Sure Steps Founder, Bernie Veldman was awarded the Exceptional Meritorious Service Award and Down Syndrome Indiana received the Convention Service Award. Several local DSI Self Advocates including: Angie Cain, Jessica Green, Tommy Sliva, Connor Stoesz, and Sarah Strohl were invited to present in front of a national audience!

The Down Syndrome Indiana office has additional hard copies of the convention compendium. They are available on a first come first serve basis. They may be picked up at the DSI office between the hours of 8:30AM to 2:30PM Monday thru Thursday of any week. For a $5.00 donation to cover the cost of postage, DSI will be happy to mail you a copy of the compendium.

DSI hopes that you will consider taking your 2015 family vacation in Phoenix, Arizona from June 26th to June 28th.

“It was uplifting and motivating and just wonderful.  I learned immensely and felt at home.”

-        Tricia

It is my pleasure to serve you,


Lisa Wells, Executive Director

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

In a Perfect World…. Everyone with a Disability, Anywhere in the World would have Rights.

Please contact Senator Dan Coats and encourage him to vote to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Seven Reasons to Support the CRPD

·       The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international human rights treaty that will extend protections like those guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)  to millions of people with disabilities worldwide;

·       Ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is good for American businesses; it will expand our access to international markets;

·       It does not matter what political party you belong to (if any), the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities crosses party lines, it is bipartisan;

·       Ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will not change United States law nor put the United States under the control of the United Nations. The United States will still be a completely sovereign nation and our way of life will not change;

·       Ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities is important for Americans with disabilities who live and work abroad- including veteran and military families;

·       There is wide support for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities among veterans, people with disabilities, religious groups and businesses;

·       The United States must ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in order to participate in United Nations negotiations regarding the implementation of the treaty.

Take Action in Support of the CRPD

Did you know? Congressional staff members keep track of how many calls and e-mails they receive on different topics. When a bill comes up for a vote, Senators will check with their staff to find out how many constituents they have heard from either in support of or against a pending piece of legislation. That is why it is so important for us to make our voices heard on issues that are important to us. It can be uncomfortable to make a phone call, many people get nervous. However, there is information below that will help to make the process as smooth as possible for you whether you choose to call in, send an e-mail or forward a fax. No matter what method you choose, please stand up for the rights of persons with a disability wherever they are in the world.

Email Template

Simply copy and paste the text below (add your name and hometown) into this e-mail template:  http://www.coats.senate.gov/contact/.

“Dear Senator Coats,

I am writing to urge you to vote to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). CRPD is an international human rights treaty that promotes greater access to education, employment, community living and civic participation for people with disabilities worldwide. It is based on existing United States disability rights laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The United States must ratify CRPD in order to participate in UN negotiations regarding its implementation and the setting of international accessibility standards. It is important for the US to be at the table during these negotiations, so that we can advocate for the policies which will work best for Americans with disabilities working or traveling abroad – for example, veterans, Paralympians who represent the United States at international events, and military families with overseas assignments who have children with disabilities. Being at the table will also allow us to find new markets for American products and expertise. American businesses lead the world in accessible product design, and ratifying CRPD would allow those businesses greater access to international markets.

Ratifying the Convention will not harm United States sovereignty or give the UN control over United States law. Ratification will increase the revenue of American companies and make the rest of the world more accessible to Americans with disabilities.

Nineteen veterans’ groups, 26 religious groups, 60 businesses, 750 disability organizations, the Chamber of Commerce, and a broad bipartisan coalition of current and former policymakers all support CRPD. So do many of your constituents, and, I hope, so will you.

Thank you for your time and attention on this important issue.

[Your full name]
[Your hometown]


Phone call script

Call the Senator’s office at the number below and use the included script.

Call Senator Dan Coats’ Office at: (202) 224-5623

“Hi, I’m a constituent of Senator Coats and I’m calling with a comment.”

The front desk will either transfer you to constituent services, or ask you to give your comment.

“My name is ______ and my hometown is ______, Indiana. I’m calling to urge the Senator to vote to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Ratification will not harm U.S. sovereignty, but it will improve the lives of Americans with disabilities living abroad, and it will create new markets for American companies. Veterans, business, most major religions, and the Chamber of Commerce all support ratifying CRPD. This is a bipartisan issue and CRPD has the support of many respected and prominent Republicans, as well as many of your constituents. Thank you for your time.”


Dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with Down syndrome,



Lisa Wells