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Down syndrome activists to speak on best practices, classroom curricula

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 | 6:46 p.m. CDT; updated 11:44 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 4, 2014

*CORRECTION: Patti McVay no longer works at the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome, as was stated in an earlier version of this article.

COLUMBIA — Two Down syndrome activists will bring their expertise and knowledge of the genetic disorder to Columbia Public Schools faculty, parents and the general public on Monday.

The Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis — a nonprofit interested in benefiting the lives of people with Down syndrome and their families — is bringing Patti McVay and Laurie Pachl of the national organization Down Syndrome Unites to speak at Memorial Student Union as part of the nonprofit's workshop series.

McVay is the director of education for the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome*, and Pachl is a parent and advocate for children with Down syndrome.

They will be educating faculty and parents about how to implement processes, tools and ideas for classroom curriculum planning for children with Down syndrome, according to the nonprofit's website.

The Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis is hosting a series of workshops this year to help promote awareness in the areas surrounding St. Louis. Erin Suelmann, the association's director of programs, said the nonprofit has not held a workshop in Columbia recently.

"The workshop will work toward getting teachers, professionals and parents on the same team," Suelmann said. "It will help teachers modify their curriculum as well as work to include the children and offer the best practices for the education of students with Down syndrome."

The recent death of Dayne William Hathman, a Columbia 6-year-old with Down syndrome who was shot and killed Thursday, instills even more of a reason to promote awareness of the disorder, Suelmann said.

"We want to educate the community that children with Down syndrome are just like anyone else,” Suelmann said. "We need to learn to accept their differences and the beautiful people that they are."

Supervising editor is Caroline Bauman.


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