PAXTON, Ill. (WCIA) — One mother in Paxton turned the hope she had for her child into a movement for all.
Down Syndrome Awareness — Paxton Area is a young group aiming to promote inclusiveness. It’s a mission they say is already making an impact.
“It was fear of how [my son] would be treated, how he would be included, what people would say and that sort of thing,” Co-Founder Darla Schall said.
The Schall family’s journey began with small steps and has grown into something greater. Over the years, they’ve participated in countless walks, starting with the National Down Syndrome Society’s Buddy Walk in Champaign.
“The walk, it’s so cool and fun,” said Brendan Schall, the inspiration behind the organization.
In 2021, they took a giant leap launching their own annual Down Syndrome Awareness walk, where it all started.
“We see, as parents, the looks and the avoidance and the exclusion,” Darla Schall said.
This event became a rallying cry for the people of Paxton, fostering understanding, support, and unifying the community.
“Just want to kind of turn that around to be a look, you know, and the inclusion, and that sort of thing. We want people to see our kiddos,” Schall said.
The same year, Schall took her advocacy efforts online by creating the “Down Syndrome Awareness – Paxton Area” Facebook group.
“We don’t want to limit it to our small community here. We want to include as many people that want to be involved. So, we would you know, the more the merrier,” Schall said.
The group’s goal is creating awareness and providing education about the lives of individuals with Down syndrome.
“Through this process, I’ve learned a lot about Down syndrome and what it is and what it isn’t myself,” Schall said. “And so I think that’s why it’s so important to share that with, you know, as many people as we possibly can.”
Schall and her family are not slowing down. They will be sharing educational information about the genetic disorder and uplifting stories of individuals with Down syndrome in their community.