More than 50 community members came out to Kings County Municipal Building in Kentville on Tuesday, March 21, in support of World Down Syndrome Day.
flag made by johnin
Guests first gathered inside the Kings County municipal chambers for the official proclamations, then outside for a flag raising that was attended by Minister of Health and Wellness Leo Glavine, Kings South MLA Keith Irving and Kings County municipal leaders, including Mayor Peter Muttart. After the proclamation reading by the town crier for Berwick and Canning, Gary Long, Glavine read a provincial proclamation that was signed by Premier Stephen McNeil.
Berwick couple Kari and Jeff Saunders organized a ceremony in honour of their son, Hunter, who has a rare form of the condition, and for other local families who have children with Down syndrome.
Down syndrome is thought to be the most universal of birth conditions, yet parents still feel there are not enough supports in place to help through important transitions to and out of the public school system and into long-term housing — a fear for many parents of aging children challenged by a number of intellectual and physical disabilities.
According to the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, more than 45,000 Canadians live with it and it affects one in every 781 births. Kari Saunders said this is what makes the flag raising symbolic, and that the most important message to the public is that these children are not a mistake, and not to feel sorry for them.
“Hunter brings so much happiness to our family that I wanted to do something to celebrate him, his awesomeness as well as how important he is to us,” she said in a speech addressing a crowd of supporters after the flag raising.
“He is going to grow up in a community that will accept his differences and uniqueness, because I’m going to do as much as I can to make everyone aware of his exceptionalities and all of those that are out there.”