COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - As we honor World Down Syndrome Day on Thursday, one Midlands family is starting a new movement to spread awareness about the disorder.
The Mozingo family is encouraging people not to limit those with Down Syndrome by launching a new effort called Limitless Purpose. They say people with Down Syndrome are still active members of our community who deserve the opportunity to live up to their full potential, like everyone else.
World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated on March 21 (3.21), which represents people who have a third copy of the 21st chromosome. This is how doctors determine that someone has the genetic disorder, affecting about 6,000 U.S. children every year- or one in 700 American children.
Padgett Mozingo says she learned her daughter Lila would have Down Syndrome during her pregnancy. She says while services and acceptance for those with disabilities have come far, there’s still a great distance to go. On Thursday, the Mozingos are planning to visit the State House, where Lila will pass out bracelets and fliers about the new movement, Limitless Purpose. Her mother tells WIS-TV that she hopes that lawmakers will see just how capable and vocal the seven-year-old is, and how engaged she is in her community.
“I hope they would give those folks a chance and look past the signs of Down Syndrome that they might see or the indicators, and not make assumptions. I think that we have pegged our little girl as Limitless Lila early on because we believed – when we were quick to be told what her limits would be and what challenges she would face, we decided early on that if we loved her and challenged her and supported her that she could pursue her dreams and be all that she could be and that’s really all that I think any parent can ask of a child,” Padgett said.
As state lawmakers consider major education reform this legislative session, the Mozingo family also hopes to remind them not to forget the needs of students with disabilities. They say when it comes to public education, they’ve experienced their own set of challenges. Padgett says she wants her daughter Lila to have the same opportunities guaranteed to every other student.
“All children, by federal law, are entitled to a free and appropriate education. They deserve a chance to live and to have a fulfilling future and so it’s important as lawmakers – and my ask is that – as they consider the tough challenges of making sure that every child in our state has a quality education in the systems and services that are there, that they don’t forget that children with disabilities are entitled to that also and that the best way that a child can get a fulfilling education is in an inclusive environment so that they can learn from their peers and others around them.”
Padgett tells me she hopes the family’s visit to the State House will also help lawmakers understand their responsibility to make sure Lila, and everyone with a disability, has a fair chance.