Burnley schoolgirl champions Down Syndrome as 'a word not a label 'in crusade to raise awareness
The 10-year-old pupil at St Augustine’s RC Primary School in Burnley asked headteacher Sinead Colbeck if she could organise some events for World Down Syndrome Day, which was on Monday.
Bella took the lead, organising posters around the school telling pupils about Maggie who is three.
Pupils wore odd socks – the tradition on World Down Syndrome Day - cookies were sold and Bella went into each class and gave a presentation about Maggie and Down Syndrome including facts about it, such as the day devoted to it being held on the 21st day of the third month signifies the uniqueness of the triplication of the 21st chromosome. Pupils also learned that Down Syndrome occurs in one in 1,000 live births and people with Down Syndrome have 47 chromosomes not 46
Pupils also learnt Makaton, a simple sign language which Bella and Maggie use.
Both Bella and Maggie are members of East Lancashire Down Syndrome Support Group and over £200 was raised for that.
“I asked Mrs Colbeck if I could do something and she immediately said yes,” said Bella. “I was excited to do it, not for me, but for Maggie as I want Maggie to be accepted.
“I love Maggie, I want to support her and she is perfect, except when she is pulling my hair!
“I want Maggie to be welcomed everywhere so I want to educate people about Down Syndrome and make them more aware of it. It’s a word not a label.
“Maggie’s favourite sign language is rubbing her tummy to tell us she is hungry and she loves curries!
“It is challenging and she may get frustrated growing up as she may not learn as quickly as we do but she is unique and funny.
“Every pupil was interested in what I was saying, it does take a lot to stand up and speak in front of people and I was nervous but it will be good for helping to raise awareness.
“I loved everyone wearing odd socks – there were some really cool ones!”